Cause Marketing is a collaboration with for-profit business and non-profit organizations toward a mutually beneficial result.
Cause Marketing is often overlooked as a marketing strategy as business managers focus on ROI and cost per clicks. However, cause marketing is a powerful, critical tool in the social media environment, and a key aspect of any well thought out, integrated marketing plan.
Social media allows individuals to campaign on behalf of their passions, be it raising awareness for ALS, or putting an end to animal abuse.
Where a typical business lacks momentum online is in humanism, and outside of senior management and overtly keen employees, will embrace the business for the sake of a business.
Social media has changed the face of marketing in that it has raised the bar of expectations for business who simply sold product in the past. Customers are underwhelmed by giveaways and push campaigns, and instead are seeking movements that seek to improve the global community.
There are several key features that make the Free Rice campaign an ongoing success:
1) Free Rice is created by and owned by the World Food Programme, and therefore, is managed by the cause rather than by the corporation. The benefit for the cause is that it will continue for as long as the campaign is successful for providing rice (in this case) and not determined by a single corporation who may terminate at any time due to ROI, new marketing initiatives, budget cut backs or a new marketing manager. Free Rice is also available to multiple sponsors as exclusivity was not required or granted in order to make this campaign a success.
2) Free Rice has a three prong approach: education, feed children, improve public image of major corporations. A successful cause campaign should be more than a “click to give” initiative if it will have long term public interest. The public is inundated with such campaigns, and while people do give, they become exhausted by continued requests that lack a personal reward (outside of the gift of giving). Free Rice provides a level of entertainment and education, and it is this “reward” that brings people back again and again.
3) Free Rice is not an overt sales pitch. Where Free Rice might improve its strategy could be to expand the game component into “friendly competition” through social media channels. Perhaps a Google + network for Free Rice players and possibly monthly competitions between schools who choose to create teams. Prizes might include a trip to visit a country that has received aide through the program, or a “Free Rice” university scholarship. The possibilities are endless with a bit of creative thinking and solid corporate sponsorship.