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Exploiting (For) A Good Cause?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and if you didn’t know that, you were probably living in a cave. Every NFL game has had a bunch of oddly placed pink items on their uniforms and fields. Television and billboard advertising is up in major cities around the country.

I get it. I can’t think of too many people that haven’t been impacted by breast cancer in some way. So yes, awareness is good. It seems like companies have gone a little overboard on the using the awareness month to hawk their own products though. So what do I go to the store to find?

Of course, I came to find out that it wasn’t just Pepsi but a bunch of products in my local Fred Meyer store (a subsidiary of Kroger). The program aims to give three million to breast cancer. Sweet, right?

Riding The Line

How do you ride the line between promoting awareness and promoting your brand (for promoting awareness)? Can you do both effectively or will it always come off as transparent and pathetic? Should we expect companies to do good things without having to promote the crap out of it?

And not that this is the component of this particular promotion but how good is a company that will donate some proceeds of the sale to a charity? So if you’re willing to buy our product, then we’ll donate it (oh, and we’ll throw in the fine print that we won’t donate more than a few thousand bucks).

The Real Problem

If people start to become cynical about a company’s charitable donations, will companies stop donating money to these causes? And if they become cynical about partnerships between companies and charities, will the associated charities see a lowered reputation? The real problem is that the charities could potentially suffer from cynicism and companies that pull out of their causes. Companies don’t need charities to hawk their wares but charities often need all of the promotion they can get.

What do you think about companies using good causes to promote their products? What works and what doesn’t?

By Lance Haun

Strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. Former HR pro. Portland guy (Go Blazers!) and WSU alum (Go Cougs!). I get to write about what I want here.

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