In the caring, sharing 90s cause-related marketing, where a brand
and most typically a charity form an alliance, has been forcing its way
into marketers’ consciences and budget plans.
This type of alliance is mutually beneficial, but in the early days it
was typically the charities that had to do all the hunting for brand
However, this is changing, according to specialists working in the
field, with the brand owners just as keen to find partners.
Companies’ motives are far from altruistic, if the findings of research
carried out last year among 1053 consumers by Research International are
to be believed. The ’Winning Game’ research was commissioned by Business
In The Community, the charity charged with supporting the economic and
social integration of communities by raising the quality and extent of
Business In The Community has 400 member companies, 75 of which are in
the FTSE 100 index. In 1995, it established an initiative, led by Sir
Dominic Cadbury, to promote cause-related marketing and act as a
facilitator in encouraging partnerships.
According to its research, 61% of consumers would switch from one retail
outlet to another if it was associated with a ’cause’, while 86% have a
more positive image of a company if they see that it is doing something
to make the world a better place, regardless of the cause or issue
Small wonder, then, that marketing directors are making a beeline for
the charities section of the Yellow Pages.
But for a brand or a charity, simply forming an alliance is no guarantee
of success. So, how does a brand or a charity looking for a partner make
the right choice?
According to Bob Hand, managing director of Affinity Solutions, an
agency which specialises in establishing ’mutually beneficial marketing
partnerships’, there are some clear guidelines to follow.
’If you look at most successful third-party relationships,’ says Hand,
’it’s where there’s a natural link between the two organisations. This
is why you see supermarkets, which target families with young children,
linking up with children’s charities and running projects like Tesco’s
Computers For Schools campaign.’
Hand believes that where problems arise, it is usually because charities
and brands come together without either side giving the matter a great
deal of thought.
’If an airline banned smoking on all its flights and supported a cancer
charity,’ he says, ’that would be good cause-related marketing, but I
think there are lots of examples of charities going around and saying
’let’s just grab any commercial organisation that moves’.
’And from the brand side, you often hear people saying, ’We need a
charity’, when what they ought to have is a charity which suits their
company. I think a lot of people say that they must have a charity to
make the organisation look good, without really understanding the
One company attempting to solve cause-related marketing’s Blind Date
dilemma and help create alliances between charities and brands is
database organisation NDL. It offers a profile matching service marrying
brands to partners.
NDL’s business development manager, Matthew Kelleher, says the service
can operate by looking for a profile match between a charity’s donor
database and specified brands, or between the donor database and
industry sectors suggested by NDL, (eg PEP providers), where the charity
doesn’t have specific brands in mind.
Kelleher admits the service is in its infancy, but believes it has the
potential to develop. ’It all depends how much people want to know which
third-party company is best for them to work with, or how much they are
prepared to go out on a limb. It all comes down to targeting,’ he
Some companies find their partners themselves. Cadbury invited five
charities to pitch for the right to be associated with the company. Save
The Children convinced Cadbury that it had the best credentials to
develop an active partnership. One of the results was Cadbury’s
’Strollathon’ ten-mile sponsored walk, which raises pounds 400,000
But finding a partner is only half the battle. Once a relationship has
been established, it has to be managed. Affinity Solutions’ Bob Hand
believes there are key questions to be considered at the outset.
’You have to decide whether you’re going to run things with existing
staff or recruit dedicated personnel with specialist knowledge,’ says
Hand. ’You also need to agree on the contractual terms. If customers are
recruited, who owns them? What happens if and when the agreement is
Are you looking for money upfront, or regular, long-term income? How
much do you embrace their brand?’
In Hand’s experience, time spent evaluating these issues before entering
into an agreement can prevent problems further down the line.
One of the biggest growth areas within cause-related marketing is
affinity cards. The first one supporting a charity was launched in
October 1987 by the Bank of Scotland with the National Society for
Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
According to research conducted by Abram Hawkes in January, there are
now around 750 UK organisations with an established affinity or
co-branded credit cards. Despite this, there is still a huge untapped
potential market out there.
Research by Datamonitor shows UK spending accounted for by co-branded
and affinity credit cards in 1995 was pounds 1.96bn, just 4.5% of total
UK credit card spending.
Who gets what out of an affinity card can vary. According to the Abram
Hawkes research, the partner organisation typically receives a one-off
payment for each card taken up by its members. This can vary between 65p
per card to as much as pounds 30 per card, depending on which
organisation markets the card.
Thereafter, the partner organisation will typically receive between 0.2%
to 0.25% of the amount spent on the card. The average amount earned by
the partner organisations was around pounds 73,000, though several
organisations had earned less than pounds 1000 ,and others more than
David Williams-Jones, divisional general manager of Transnational, which
acts as a ’marriage broker’ between issuing banks and benefiting
charities, believes the appeal of affinity cards lies not just in their
ability to generate funds, but in the certainty that the funds will be
’For a group such as Action Aid, which to date has raised around pounds
400,000 through its affinity card, it’s not only the fact that it gets a
payment every year, it’s the fact that it has a pretty good idea what
that payment will be at the beginning of the year. Having money is one
thing, but to know they are going to have it and plan how it’s going to
be spent before they get it is equally important,’ says
He believes the affinity card has a long way to go in the UK, pointing
to the fact that while one in 20 UK credit cards are affinity or
co-branded cards, the ratio in the US is one in five. As more brands,
and charities, recognise the benefits of affinity cards and other
cause-related marketing activities, it may not be too long before the
balance is redressed.
On November 17, Business In The Community is holding a one-day
conference on cause-related marketing, supported by Cadbury, BT, Lever
Brothers, Guinness, Tesco and others. Details from Sue Adkins on
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has
300 uniformed inspectors operating in England and Wales and runs a
number of animal hospitals, clinics and homes.
Keeping the Society afloat is an expensive exercise. It costs pounds
11,000 to buy a new inspector’s van and a further pounds 1000 to kit it
out with the necessary equipment. It costs pounds 10,100 to train each
To help meet its funding needs, the Society launched an affinity card in
conjunction with the Bank of Scotland in August 1993. To date, the
Society has received pounds 771,696 in royalty payments. The figure is
expected to top pounds 1m in 1998. There are currently 80,000 RSPCA
The card is marketed by Transnational, which has used innovative methods
of recruitment such as direct response TV advertising campaigns,
alongside more traditional activities such as warm mailings to existing
RSPCA donors and face-to-face selling at exhibitions and agricultural
Alyson Pearce, corporate relations manager for the RSPCA, says the
Society is delighted by the success of the card. ’If you continually ask
for money, donor fatigue can set in,’ she says.
AN ETHICAL PACKAGE
Not every cause-related marketing campaign has a financial imperative.
In the case of frozen food retailer, Iceland, an alliance with the
Missing Person’s Helpline is all about tracing missing people.
The charity made an initial approach to Iceland earlier this year to see
if there was any way the retailer could help give the charity
The result was a campaign, launched in April, which features a
photograph and brief personal details of a missing person on four-litre
cartons of Iceland own-brand milk. The person featured changes every
three weeks. The additional costs generated by the regular packaging
changes are met by Iceland and its suppliers.
Barbara Crampton, public relations manager at Iceland, explains the
logic behind the campaign. ’For the Missing Person’s Helpline, we
offered nationwide distribution, with 770 stores in every part of the
UK. That was vital when you consider that the people in question could
be a long way from home. From our point of view, it’s an ideal
opportunity to show Iceland caring for the local communities.’ The
four-litre milk cartons were chosen for several reasons. First, they are
the right size to accommodate the amount of information needed.
Second, they are one of Iceland’s biggest-selling lines, with around
75,000 units sold each day. Third, they are of a size which is unlikely
to be handled by small children who might be disturbed by the
The campaign recently enjoyed its first taste of success when a 15-year
old girl from Torquay, Kirsty McFadden, was found in Bristol as a result
of her photograph being recognised from the carton. Kirsty was reunited
with her family exactly one year after she went missing.