Should Your Company Engage in Cause Marketing? Here’s What Consumers Think

Cause marketing is good marketing according to a recent study.  

The marketing research firm Toluna conducted a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults and here’s what they had to say:

  • Almost half felt that “it’s a great way to bring attention to different national or global issues.”
  • Over half said their favorite way for companies to engage was to “donate some portion of their revenue to a recognized charity.”
  • The most popular cause was “hunger, homelessness or medical relief” followed closely by “education.”
  • A significant majority favored domestic causes over international causes.
  • Nearly two-thirds said they regularly or sometimes sought out brands that support certain causes.
  • Most said that it does not impact their willingness to purchase if they don’t agree with the cause.
  • But almost half of millennials surveyed would seek out a brand that aligned with a cause they agreed with.
  • Millennials were a little more skeptical of cause marketing, but still 80% were not skeptical.
  • Almost half of the millennials surveyed said they would spend time researching brands to see what causes they support and would be willing to pay more for these products. And 30% would even sacrifice quality for a good cause.

Once again, the surveys show that cause marketing should be a critical part of a brand’s activities.  And according to this survey, any cause marketing is worthwhile, but apparently the best thing to do is target millennials, use your revenue to make donations, support hunger, homelessness or medical relief when possible, stay domestic, and let the public know what you’re doing.

 

With A Nod to May Day, Let’s Look at Beauty “Contests”

Beauty pageants have been around since the Middle Ages when during the English May Day celebrations a May Queen was crowned.  But unlike our current pageant winners who go on to work toward advanced degrees and to advanced popular causes, folklore has it that our early May Queens’ reign was more short-lived, literally; since they were put to death once the May Day festivities were over.

Beauty pageants are contests and are subject to contest laws.  What do you need to have a legitimate skill contest?  1.  An actual skill that can be assessed.  2.  Winners selected based upon exhibiting that skill.  3.  Qualified judges who have the expertise to judge that skill.

Is “beauty” a skill?  We may remember our mom saying she had to “put on her face” before going out, but unless you want to judge on how adept or fast someone is at putting on makeup, etc., it’s tough to say that “beauty” is, in itself, a true skill. (more…)

The Three Dirty Words A Company Involved in Cause Marketing Doesn’t Want to Hear

George Carlin had seven dirty words.  Spongebob Squarepants had 13 bad words (7 regular/6 sailor).  And New York State has 6,942 dirty words that can’t be used on vanity plates.  But commercial co-venturers should be aware of three dirty words: Professional Fundraiser, Professional Solicitor, and Fundraising Counsel, because if your cause marketing campaign drifts into these areas, you may want to scream another dirty word.

These categories are treated differently from commercial co-venturers under charitable solicitation laws because these people get paid for their fundraising activities and therefore, the state regulators are more cautious and have imposed much more stringent registration, bonding and reporting requirements.  (more…)

Tapping Into a New Method of Cause Marketing

What do you do when your esteemed institution of higher learning has an alma mater which, in the words of one professor, could be interpreted as being “complicit with racism”?  You do the right thing and engage the community to fix the injustice.

This is exactly what Harvard University is doing.  It’s running a contest to change the last line of its college song, Fair Harvard, written in 1836, which concludes with the promise to: “Be the herald of Light, and the bearer of Love, Till the stock of the Puritans die.”

Apparently, after 181 years, the “Harvard of the Northeast” recognized that it could run out of students with ancestors who came over on the Mayflower.  So, to this, I say, “Yay! Harvard.”  (Mind you, only for this reason do I say, “Yay! Harvard” – no offense to anyone who proudly dons the Harvard Crimson, but I’ve always been preferential to another school that decided to create its own color). (more…)

Guidance From Commercial Co-Venture Caselaw: A Unicorn of a Topic

There are not many court decisions concerning commercial co-ventures.  In fact, there are perhaps five.  This is far less than the number of decisions involving unicorns (seriously).  Nevertheless, these few court decisions provide some guidance on how a court may look at claims involving alleged violation of commercial co-venture laws.  Let’s take a look:

Attorney General v. Bach, 81 Mass. App. Ct. 1126 (2012):  Company sold tickets to a “show house” with proceeds to go to charity.  No contract with charity.  No registration (note: MA).  Show not a big hit.  Company went under.  Unknown if donation actually made.  Two years later, MA attorney general brought action against the owner personally.   Court found owner violated CCV laws.  Permanent injunction issued precluding owner from failing to comply with the act. (more…)

Hey That’s Me Drinking That Beer! UGC Rights at Issue in Beer/Photo Lawsuit

Kayla Kraft (no known relation to the cheese people) found herself on a Natural Light coaster with a fake handlebar mustache drinking a beer under the heading “Every Natty Has a Story.”  She apparently didn’t like that story and just sued Anheuser-Busch, the makers of Natural Light beer, for copyright infringement and invasion of privacy.

According to the complaint, in 2013 Kraft’s friend Kathyrn Belasco snapped the mustachioed photo of her using Kraft’s phone.  Kraft then posted the photo on Facebook.  Three years later, Belasco assigned all of her rights to the photo to Kraft.

News reports say that the photo was submitted to Natural Light’s Facebook page as part of the “Natty Rewards” contest run in 2014 by Anheuser-Busch where contestants were asked to submit a photo of themselves “acting natural.”  (Unknown whether drinking beer with a fake mustache was Ms. Kraft’s natural state.)  Rules are here. The Rules provide that photos submitted are the original work of the entrant and do not infringe upon anyone’s copyright or publicity rights.  The Rules also grant Anheuser-Busch a license to use the photo in any and all media for any purpose.  Basically, the Rules say everything that’s typical for a UGC contest.

The Complaint doesn’t mention the contest, but does allege that the photo has been used as part of Natural Light’s “Every Natty Has a Story” campaign without Kraft’s or Belasco’s consent.  Anheuser-Busch has not yet answered the Complaint.

Assuming the photo was submitted as part of the contest, this lawsuit raises a number of interesting issues.

(more…)