Cause marketing speaks volumes to readers these days, and businesses know it.
According to the Cause Marketing Forum (CMF), cause sponsorship – the alignment of businesses with nonprofit causes, is projected to hit $178 billion this year.
Companies like Yoplait and General Mills have branded their reputations on tangible, money-earning nonprofit initiatives like fighting breast cancer and improving education. Macy’s made a name for itself during the recession in 2010, when it increased its nonprofit support and raised $60 million for causes that ranged from the National Parks Association and Feeding America, to regional programs that helped local organizations like South Coast Hospice, in Coos Bay, Oregon, stay in the black.
But what about those causes that don’t have a name? You know, those more nebulous concepts like eating healthy, which inspired Walmart to revamp its pricing structure for fruits and vegetables and led McDonald’s to agree to put apple slices in its Happy Meals? In those cases, there were no nonprofit earners, but there was a benefit to the business’s reputation. CMF identifies increased brand recognition, increased sales and competitive advantage as just a few incentives for companies that want consumers to like them, not just patronize their businesses.
Perhaps the best example of one type of cause-marketing-tangent is the 2010, now-famous Dtac YouTube video, Disconnect to Connect. According to the Thai digital phone provider that created the video, the one-and-a-half minute clip received more than 200,000 new followers in one day when it was first posted in October of that year.
Its viewing was further propelled by the company’s quick use of Facebook and its social club website. Two-and-a-half years later, with more than 2 million views to its credit, the video, which is almost completely without narration and features no dialogue, has spawned look-alike messages directed at, among the many, cultural and religious viewers all across the globe.
Dtac, Thailand’s second-largest mobile phone carrier (25.3 million subscribers in 2012) and a subsidiary of the Norwegian Telenor Group, has found an interesting truism to build upon: We are drawn to the digital world for the same reason we are drawn away from it when we put down the phone or switch off the email: the need to connect. Its obvious point is that mobile communications can’t exist without the real-world, face-to-face human experiences we all crave. But its subtle message is the premise, at least, that our real world experiences need the existence of a mobile phone in order to thrive, as well. Our real world and our digital world live in a symbiotic relationship in which one can’t really exist without the other.
So what is it that makes this video so successful? Is it the music, which manages to cut across all cultural boundaries? Is it the lack of dialogue? Or is it something else?
Its “cause marketing” angle, if that’s what we call it, is Dtac’s authority score when it comes to convincing us that healthy, moderate use of mobile communications makes for happy people, happy families and happy workplaces. It’s a tangent that oddly, can’t lose in today’s hyperconnected world.
But is it a concept that can be duplicated in other settings, with other types of products? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Lead image and video courtesy of Dtac.