Blogs & Comment

Cause Related Marketing

Yesterday I met with David Hasskiel, founder of the Cause Marketing Forum, a company that he formed in 2002 to help companies and nonprofits do well by doing good. David and I started focusing exclusively in this area about the same time. One of the things that we both agreed on is the difficulty in actually pinpointing the full impact of programs in this area. In fact, it’s not often not even clear what “programs” actually mean. When people talk about their cause programs this can and encompass everything from corporate sustainability in the broadest sense to pure philanthropy. We also agreed that there’s no “one stop shop” for expertise in this area and that one should be wary of consultants who claim to have a full understanding of a discipline that’s so complex.
Today, a friend sent me a link to Microsoft’s new ” I’M” Widows Live Messenger. According to Microsoft, every someone uses Windows Messenger or Hotmail, they’ll share a portion of the advertising revenue with social cause organizations. From what the cause partners include the American Red Cross, National AIDS Fund, Sierra Club, Humane Society of the United States – all worthwhile and all US-based charities.
I don’t know if it’s just me but this initiative just doesn’t feel right. I’m all for charities getting support but why can’t people choose the organization that matters most to them? And, for a global program, why are all the groups US-based? Will this resonate with someone in the UK? And linking on-line chatting to important social issues seems a stretch. Perhaps a smarter approach would have been to use this as an opportunity to also facilitate dialogue about the issues that matter to users of Messenger or Hotmail.