October 13, 2009

Cause marketing with celebrities, social media

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Marketing for charitable causes from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaThe smartest guy I know in the cause marketing space is Chris Noble, CEO of 8-year-old Kompolt. With the help of a grant from eBay, Chris’s team at Kompolt is organizing the nonprofit track Thursday at BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas.

Some $6 billion was raised online in 2008 for charity and nonprofits — less than 5 percent of total US charitable giving. Chris thinks we’ll see that trend follow the same growth curve as ecommerce over the next 10 years, and as it does, cause marketing and cause campaigns will play an increasingly important role.

In this 13-minute video interview, Chris talks about the rapidly evolving field of cause marketing — working with companies to promote a social good. Major brands have begun backing charitable causes, and celebrities have as well. Now social media, and participation by online communities, is throwing an extra dimension into the mix.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo. Some highlights:

• The first cause marketing campaign was by American Express in 1980s. A penny of each transaction was donated to renovating the Statue of Liberty.

• Social media is the latest wrinkle in cause marketing, enabling users to have a higher level of direct engagement with a brand.

• Wal-mart and its 11 Moms campaign, where Wal-mart reached out to 11 mommy bloggers, is is just one example of where companies are giving back to the community.

• During Valentine’s Day 2009 Kompolt ran an engagement campaign for Electrolux, the appliance manufacturerer, which wanted to highlight its new baking products. They ran a virtual bake sale on Faceboook, and for every cupcake sent to a friend, Electrolux donated gave $1 to ovarian cancer research. Kompolt sent out close to 200,000 cupcakes during the week and the Electrolux website got 40,000 new registrations.

• Chris cites examples of celebrities such as Carroll Shelby, creator-designer of the Ford Mustang, rallying people around a cause. Kompolt ran a campaign for Restoration Hardware around the 1967 Shelby Cobra and the branded page drew 700,000 unique visits over 10 days. Shelby’s charity supports organ donations for children.

“We see the nexus of celebrity and charity as one that’s only going to grow from here on,” he says. “A lot of under-50 celebs have grown up in a culture of giving back, and it’s very much a part of Hollywood culture now. … It’s not about celebrity but it is about community.”

As Causeitsmybirthday.com demonstrated this past week, anybody can now get online and rally friends and supporters around a cause, raising hundreds or thousands of dollars for a single charity. “That’s incredible,” Chris says.

What’s enabling this is social media. “It allows all of us to run our own little door-to-door campaigns inside our own social networks,” he says.

JD Lasica, founder and former editor of Socialbrite, is co-founder of Cruiseable. Contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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