8 Brands That Leveraged Cause Marketing and How

Discover how cause marketing has been a powerful tool for brands to increase profitability while making a positive impact on society. From Gillette’s #MeToo-inspired campaign to TOMS’ #WithoutShoes initiative, these examples showcase the success of cause-related marketing.

By Red Bangle

07 min read

Sep 28, 2023

How to Leverage Cause Marketing Videos

Contrary to popular belief, cause marketing is not a 21st-century phenomenon. The earliest example is documented in 1976 when Marriott paired up with March of the Dimes – a nonprofit that worked towards preventing birth defects in babies.

The NGO wanted to raise funds and Marriott wanted to promote its new family-entertainment complex called Great America in Santa Clara, California.

The result was a win-win for both. March of Dimes got donations totaling $2.5 million at the end of the campaign and the opening ceremony of Great America was attended by 2.2 million people.[1]

Defined as a type of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), cause marketing refers to any effort in which a company’s promotional campaign has the dual purpose of increasing profitability while bettering society.

In emerging markets like India (67%), China (68%), and Brazil (76%), consumers are ‘very likely’ to switch brands in favour of those that support a good cause. And which brand wouldn’t want to increase its penetration in these markets?

Listed below are 8 examples of brands that have leveraged cause-marketing to gain popularity and go viral:

1. Gillette’s “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be”

In the wake of the #MeToo movement of 2019, Gillette made waves by changing its tagline from “The best a man can get” to “The best men can be”. This digital ad challenged the ‘boys will be boys’ narrative that Gillette had long endorsed in its previous communications. 

The result? Released on 14 January, the film got more than 4 million views on YouTube in less than 48 hours, and their announcement tweet achieved 228 thousand retweets. Some loyalists boycotted the brand, while others pledged loyalty to it overnight. The campaign is a classic example of cause marketing or cause-related marketing.

2. Cause marketing by TOMS

Cause marketing can take the ‘You Engage, We’ll Give’ route where brands promise to donate a certain amount per purchase or engagement to non-profits, e.g. the #WithoutShoes campaign by TOMS in 2015. 

All that consumers had to do was Instagram a photo of their bare feet with the hashtag #WithoutShoes and in turn, TOMS would give a pair of new shoes to kids in need for every photo. This campaign saw the participation of people from across 30 countries and resulted in 2,96,243 children receiving a new pair of TOMS Giving Shoes. 

Not only did TOMS manage to drive massive engagement and create a community driven by the will to do good, this campaign also helped in value creation for the brand. What a stroke of brilliance, wouldn’t you agree? 

3. Pantene Philippine’s Label Against Women

Most of us are familiar with situations where a man saying something is treated very differently from a woman saying the same thing. Unconscious biases such as these rest deep within our brains and we are conditioned to think of them as being ‘normal’.

In 2013, P&G’s Pantene challenged this gender bias through a digital ad created by BBDO Guerrero. From 18 months of continuous sales decline before the launch of the campaign, Pantene’s market share grew by 3% just 8-weeks into the launch.

4. Melbourne Metro’s Dumb Way to Die campaign

Is it possible to talk about the different ways to die with humor and wit? McCann proves it is. 

Melbourne Metro wanted to deliver the common message of being safe around trains. And instead of going the straight-forward and boring route, they did something fun and engaging.

Their Dumb Ways to Die campaign used a funny video and a hilarious song to deliver a very strong message: getting hit by a train is one of the dumbest ways to die. 

Needless to say, it was viewed 2.5 million times within 48 hours of release on YouTube and 4.7 million times within 72 hours. Within two weeks, the video had been viewed over 30 million times.

5. Fly The New Feeling by Vistara 

Remember how the first ever experience of flying is so very special? The nervousness, the excitement, the ‘heart-in-mouth’ syndrome when the plane takes off? Remember those feelings?

On its maiden flight in January, 2015, Vistara Airlines gave the same experience to 12 underprivileged children of the Salaam Baalak Foundation and caught their reactions on camera. Conceptualised by Ogilvy, this ad won the brand many praises. 

6. Lifebuoy’s Help A Child Reach 

In rural India, many kids die before the age of 5 due to poor hand hygiene of the caregivers. Lifebuoy identified one such village where children contract preventable infections like diarrhoea and decided to conduct a real-life experiment.  

The subject: a to-be-mother. The object: to raise awareness around hand hygiene. The village saw an overwhelming drop of diarrhoea incidences from 35 % to 5 % after the release of the video. Conceptualised by Lowe Lintas, this campaign ranked #4 in the ‘Warc 100: The world’s best marketing campaigns’ in 2015.

7. Tata Tea’s Jaago Re

This is one of the rare examples of a marketing campaign that turned into a revolution in India. Tata Tea teamed up with NGO Janaagraha to urge the Indian youth to exercise their voting rights.

Conceptualised by Lowe Lintas, the impact of this campaign was huge – both on the social front as well as the business front. 6 lakh Indians registered to vote via the jaagore website. 

As of June 2007, monthly market share in value of Tata Tea was 19.5 while HUL’s was 22. But this gap seemed to be closing post the launch of the campaign. Figures for March 2009 showed that Tata Tea had a value share of 22.3 as compared to HUL’s 23. 

8. C0D3Rs by IBM 

Despite movements and initiatives around women empowerment and education, the gender gap is huge when it comes to the world of coding. IBM decided to do something about this, while increasing registrations for their P-TECH and Girls Who Code programs.

They started a video series featuring young female computer science enthusiasts who participate in IBM’s P-TECH and Girls Who Code programs with the hope that this would inspire young girls to get into coding.

Since the launch of this initiative, the number of female coders participating in these programs has gone up from 12% to a remarkable 71%.[5]

Whether you’re a B2B company or a B2C company, cause marketing, if implemented well, is a sure shot way of gaining customer engagement, awareness, and publicity. Whatever your cause, your campaign would need a compelling video — one with a strong narrative and a story that wows.

At Red Bangle, we make such videos every day. Head to our video production portfolio section to see some of our work for yourself!

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