Socially Responsible Marketing

Effective internal marketing must be matched by a strong sense of ethics, values, and social responsibility.22 Taking a more active, strategic role in corporate social responsibility is thought to benefit not just customers, employees, community, and the environment but also shareholders. Firms feel they also benefit in different ways, as Figure 23.4 illustrates.

The most admired—and most successful—companies in the world abide by high standards of business and market­ing conduct that dictate serving peoples interests, not only their own. Procter & Gamble has made “brand purpose” a key component of the company’s marketing strategies. The company has launched a number of award-winning cause programs to support its brands, such as with Downy fabric softener’s “Touch of Comfort,” Tide laundry detergents “Loads of Hope,” and Secret deodorant’s “Mean Stinks.”23 P&G is not alone, as the following demonstrates. 24

FIRMS OF ENDEARMENT Researchers Raj Sisodia, David Wolfe, and Jag Sheth believe humanistic companies make great companies. They see “Firms of Endearment” as those with a culture of caring that serve the interests of their stakeholders, who are defined by the acronym SPICE: Society, Partners, Investors, Customers, and Employees. Sisodia and colleagues believe Firms of Endearment create a love affair with stakeholders. Their senior managers run an open-door policy, are passionate about customers, and earn modest compensation. They pay their em­ployees more, relate more closely to a smaller group of excellent suppliers, and give back to the communities in which they work. They actually spend less on marketing as a percentage of sales yet earn greater profits because customers who love the company do most of the marketing. The authors see the 21st-century marketing paradigm as creating value for all stakeholders and becoming a beloved firm. Table 23.2 lists firms receiving top marks as Firms of Endearment from a sample of thousands of customers, employees, and suppliers.


Raising the level of socially responsible marketing calls for making a three-pronged attack that relies on proper legal, ethical, and social responsibility behavior. One company that puts social responsible marketing squarely at the center of all it does is Stonyfield Farm.25

ETHICAL BEHAVIOR Business practices come under attack because business situations routinely pose ethical dilemmas: It’s not easy to draw a clear line between normal marketing practice and unethical behavior. Some issues can generate controversy or sharply divide critics, such as acceptable marketing to children.27


Amid pressure from regulators and the threat of lawsuits, food and beverage manufacturers have cut back on marketing their least healthful products to kids; developed new recipes to reduce calories, sodium, sugar, and fat in thousands of products; and made changes to place nutrition information on the front of the package. Some watch groups feel that is still not enough, and with childhood obesity an administration priority being addressed by First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” and other pro­grams, tight new government standards to further limit advertising to children and teens take effect in 2016. These standards require food marketed toward children ages 2 to 17 to make a “meaningful contribution” to a healthy diet by providing a certain amount of healthy items (fruits, vegetables, whole grains) and limiting unhealthy items (sodium, sugar, and saturated fat). Later regulation was proposed to ban in-school advertising for foods high in sugar, fat, and salt and to eliminate the tax deductions of advertising and marketing expenses for food and marketing companies if the products are of “poor nutritional quality” and mar­keted to kids. Although proposed regulations often change a great deal before taking effect, there will be increased government scrutiny of the way food and beverages are marketed to children.

Of course, certain business practices are clearly unethical or illegal. These include bribery, theft of trade secrets, false and deceptive advertising, exclusive dealing and tying agreements, quality or safety defects, false warranties, inaccurate labeling, price-fixing or undue discrimination, and barriers to entry and predatory competition.

Companies must adopt and disseminate a written code of ethics, build a company tradition of ethical behavior, and hold their people fully responsible for observing ethical and legal guidelines. In the past, a disgruntled customer might bad-mouth an unethical or poorly performing firm to 12 other people; today, via the Internet, he or she can reach thousands. The general distrust of companies among U.S. consumers is evi­dent in research showing the percentage of those who view corporations unfavor­ably is almost 40 percent.28

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY BEHAVIOR Marketers must exercise their social conscience in specific dealings with customers and stakeholders. Some top-rated companies for corporate social responsibility are Whole Foods, Walt Disney, Coca- Cola, Johnson & Johnson, and Google.29

Increasingly, people want information about a company’s record on social and environmental responsibility to help them decide which companies to buy from, invest in, and work for.30 Communicating corporate social responsibility can be a challenge. Once a firm touts an environmental initiative, it can become a target for criticism. Often, the more committed a company is to sustainability and envi­ronmental protection, the more dilemmas can arise, as Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has found.31


Vermont-based Green Mountain Coffee Roasters prides itself on sustainability efforts that have helped it become one of the fastest-selling coffee brands around. The company sup­ports local and global communities by offsetting 100 percent of its greenhouse gas emis­sions, investing in sustainably grown coffee, and allocating at least 5 percent of its pre-tax profits to social and environmental projects. Through its C.A.F.E. Time or Community Action for Employees programs, employees are encouraged to volunteer as many as 52 hours annually of company-paid service to give back to local organizations and communities. All these activities help Green Mountain fulfill its purpose statement to “create the ultimate coffee experience in every life we touch, from tree to cup—transforming the way the world views business.” The firm’s 2006 purchase of Keurig and its popular single-cup brewing system posed a quandary, though: The K-Cups used with the Keurig brewing system were made of totally nonrecyclable plastic and foil. Although disposal makes up only about 5 percent of their total environmental impact—more significant effects are related to brewer use, coffee cultivation, and product packaging—Green Mountain has engaged in extensive R&D and explored numerous partnerships to find a more environmentally sound solution, vowing to make K-Cup packs recyclable by 2020 while also addressing their other environmental effects in different ways.

Corporate philanthropy also can pose dilemmas. Merck, DuPont, Walmart, and Bank of America have each donated $100 million or even more to charities in a year. Yet good deeds can be overlooked—even resented—if the company is seen as exploitive or fails to live up to a “good guys” image. Some critics worry that cause marketing or “consumption philanthropy” may replace virtuous actions with less thoughtful consumer buying, reduce emphasis on real solutions, or deflect attention from the fact that markets may create many social problems to begin with.32

SUSTAINABILITY Sustainability—the ability to meet humanity’s needs without harming future generations— now tops many corporate agendas. Major corporations outline in great detail how they are trying to improve the long-term impact of their actions on communities and the environment. Coca-Cola, AT&T, and DuPont have even installed Chief Sustainability Officers.33

As one sustainability consultant put it, “There is a triple bottom line—people, planet, and profit—and the people part of the equation must come first. Sustainability means more than being eco-friendly, it also means you are in it for the long haul.”34 Corporate actions toward achieving sustainability take all forms. For example, Whole Foods, Wegmans, Target, and Walmart no longer sell fish caught in areas subject to overfishing or in a manner likely to harm other marine life or habitats.35

Sustainability ratings exist, but there is no consistent agreement about what metrics are appropriate.36 One comprehensive study used 11 factors to assemble a list of the top 100 sustainable corporations in the world: energy, water, CO2, and waste productivity; leadership diversity; CEO-to-average-worker pay; taxes paid; sustainability leadership; sustainability pay link; innovation capacity; and transparency. Some notable global firms in the top 10 include Statoil (Norway), Adidas (Germany), and Westpac Banking (Australia).37

Some feel companies that score well on sustainability exhibit high-quality management in that “they tend to be more strategically nimble and better equipped to compete in the complex, high-velocity, global environment.”38 Consumer interest is also creating market opportunities, such as for organic products (see “Marketing Insight: The Rise of Organic”).

Heightened interest in sustainability has also unfortunately resulted in greenwashing, which gives products the appearance of being environmentally friendly without living up to that promise. One study revealed that half the labels on allegedly green products focus on an eco-friendly benefit (such as re­cycled content) while omitting information about significant environmental drawbacks (such as manu­facturing intensity or transportation costs).39 Stonyfield Farm’s cofounder Gary Hirshberg is leading the charge with the “Just Label It!” campaign to provide more useful information on labels about the use of GMO (genetically modified organism) ingredients.40

Because insincere firms have jumped on the green bandwagon, consumers bring a healthy skepti­cism to environmental claims. They are also unwilling to sacrifice product performance and quality, nor are they necessarily willing to pay a price premium for green products.41 Unfortunately, green products can be more expensive because ingredients are costly and transportation costs are higher for lower ship­ping volumes. As Chapter 3 described, when the recession hit, sales of many green household products slid. Sales of the premium-priced Clorox Green Works line, for example, dropped from more than $100 million in 2008 to $60 million five years later.42

4. MARKETING INSIGHT The Rise of Organic

Organic and natural products have become a strong presence in many food and beverage categories. Caster & Pollux’s success with organic and natural pet foods led to its distribution in major specialty retail chains such as PETCO. All-organic Honest Tea grew 50 percent a year after its founding in 1998; the firm sold 40 percent of the business to Coca-Cola in 2008. Annie’s Home Grown started as an organic farm in Connecticut in 1989, went public in 2012 with an IPO raising $95 million, and was bought by General Mills for $820 million in 2014.

Many organic and natural products ground their brand position­ing in sustainability and social values. Started in 1990 by avid cyclist Gary Erickson and named to honor his father, CLIF Bar set out to offer a better-tasting energy bar with wholesome, organic ingredients. CLIF Bar relies on biodiesel-powered vehicles, supports the construction of farmer- and Native American-owned wind farms through carbon off­sets, and is active in its local community.

Given their premium prices and profitability, organic food and beverage products have also become big business. Erickson turned down a $120 million offer from Quaker Oats in 2000 so his firm could remain private, in part so he could continue its focus on eco­friendly practices. Other small firms have not followed suit, however, and major corporations like Cargill, ConAgra, Kraft, and M&M Mars now control much of the nation’s organic food industry. Farms with annual sales of $500,000 or more account for nearly 80 percent of all organic sales, even though such farms make up only 12.5 percent of all farms.

Many nonfood companies are embracing organic ingredients to avoid chemicals and pesticides. Apparel and other nonfood items make up the second-fastest-growing category of the organic products industry. Organic nonfood grew to $2.8 billion in 2013—now 8 percent of the $35.1 billion organic products industry. Organic cotton grown by farmers who fight boll weevils with ladybugs, weed crops by hand, and use manure for fertilizer has become a hot product at retail.

Sources: Liz Webber, “USDA Survey Reveals Extent of Big Organic,” Supermarket News, October 18, 2012; Stephanie Strom, “Has ‘Organic’ Been Oversized?,” New York Times, July 7, 2012; George Avalos, “Annie’s CEO Aims to Make Profit on Organic Mission,” Oakland Tribune, June 24, 2012; Michelle Wu, “A Company Fueled by Athletes’ Sweat,” Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2010; Jessica Shambora, “The Honest Tea Guys Look Back,” Fortune, July 26, 2010; Megan Johnston, “Hard Sell for a Soft Fabric,” Forbes, October 30, 2006, pp. 73-80. See also Ram Bezawada and Koen Pauwels, “What Is Special about Marketing Organic Products? How Organic Assortment, Price, and Promotions Drive Retailer Performance,” Journal of Marketing 77 (January 2013), pp. 31-51.


Companies that innovate solutions and values in a socially responsible way are most likely to suc- ceed.43 Consider Timberland.44

TIMBERLAND Timberland, the maker of rugged boots, shoes, clothing, and gear, targets individuals who live, work, and play outdoors, so it only makes sense to do whatever it takes to protect the environment. The company’s actions have blazed trails for green companies around the world. Its revolutionary initiatives include putting a “nutrition label” on its shoeboxes, measuring the brand’s environmental footprint— from renewable energy used in its facilities to recycled, organic, and renewable materials in its products to trees planted around the globe. Timberland also introduced a new line of shoes called Earthkeepers, which in­corporates organic cotton, recycled PET, and recycled rubber (for the soles) and later expanded across multiple Timberland product categories. Outside of product, the brand has made a major commitment to reforestation, with nearly five million trees planted worldwide. With sales topping $1.6 billion in 2013, its business accom­plishments prove that socially and environmentally responsible companies can be successful.

Companies such as The Body Shop, Working Assets, and Smith & Hawken are also giving social responsibility a more prominent role, as has Newman’s Own. Late actor Paul Newman’s homemade salad dressing grew into a huge business. Newman’s Own brand also includes pasta sauce, salsa, popcorn, and lemonade and is now sold in 15 overseas markets. The company has given away all its profits and royalties after tax—more than $400 million so far—to thousands of educational and charitable programs worldwide, including the Hole in the Wall Gang camps Newman created for children with serious illnesses.45

Corporate philanthropy as a whole is on the rise. After years of steady growth, even during a recession, $16.8 billion in cash and in-kind support was given in 2013.46 In addition to these contributions, more firms are coming to believe corporate social responsibility in the form of cause marketing and employee volunteerism programs is not just the “right thing” but also the “smart thing to do.”47


Many firms blend corporate social responsibility initiatives with marketing activities.48 Cause-related marketing links the firm’s contributions toward a designated cause to customers’ engaging directly or indirectly in revenue-producing transactions with the firm. Cause marketing is part of corporate societal marketing (CSM), which Minette Drumwright and Patrick Murphy define as marketing efforts “that have at least one noneconomic objective related to social welfare and use the resources of the company and/or of its partners.”49 Drumwright and Murphy also include traditional and strategic philanthropy and volunteerism in CSM.

One study showed that 90 percent of U.S. consumers have a more positive image of, are more loyal to, and trust more a company that supports a cause, and 54 percent have bought a product because it was associated with a cause.50 After describing Dawn’s successful cause marketing program, we next review pros and cons of such pro­grams and some important guidelines that apply to them.51

DAWN Procter & Gamble’s Dawn, the top dishwashing liquid in the United States, has an unusual side benefit—it can clean birds caught in oil spills. A report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service called Dawn “the only bird-cleaning agent that is recommended because it removes oil from feathers; is non-toxic; and does not leave a residue.” A Web site launched in 2006,, drew 130,000 people who formed virtual groups to encourage friends and others to stop gas and oil leaks from their cars. After the catastrophic BP oil spill in 2010, P&G donated thousands of bottles of Dawn as well as placing a code on bottles and donating $1 to Gulf wildlife causes for each code customers activated, eventually totaling $500,000. To date, the company has donated more than 50,000 bottles of Dawn to help rescue and release 75,000 animals harmed by oil pollution. Teaming up with the Marine Mammal Center and International Bird Rescue, P&G pledged $1 million for 2014, also launching the premiere of a seven-part documentary series narrated by actor Rob Lowe.

CAUSE-MARKETING BENEFITS AND COSTS A successful cause-marketing program can improve social welfare, create differentiated brand positioning, build strong consumer bonds, enhance the company’s public image, create a reservoir of goodwill, boost internal morale and galvanize employees, drive sales, and increase the firms market value.52 Consumers may develop a strong, unique bond with the firm that transcends normal marketplace transactions.

Specifically, from a branding point of view, cause marketing can (1) build brand awareness, (2) enhance brand image, (3) establish brand credibility, (4) evoke brand feelings, (5) create a sense of brand community, and (6) elicit brand engagement.53 It has a particularly interested audience in socially minded 18- to 34-year-old Millennial consumers who, not surprisingly, are more likely than the general population to use social media to learn about cause activities and engage with companies about them.54

Cause-related marketing could backfire, however, if consumers question the link between the product and the cause or see the firm as self-serving and exploitive.55 Problems can also arise if consumers do not think a company is consistent and sufficiently responsible in all its behavior, as happened to KFC.56

KFC KFC’s “Buckets for the Cure” program was to donate 50 cents to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation for every $5 “pink” bucket of fried chicken purchased over a one-month period. It was slotted to be the single biggest cor­porate donation ever to fund breast cancer research—more than $8.5 million. One problem: At virtually the same time, KFC also launched its Double Down sandwich with two pieces of fried chicken, bacon, and cheese. Critics immediately pointed out that KFC was selling a food item with excessively high calories, fat, and sodium that contributed to obesity. On the Susan G. Komen site, being overweight was flagged for increasing the risk of breast cancer by 30 percent to 60 percent in postmenopausal women, also leaving the foundation open to criticism over the partnership.

To avoid backlash, some firms take a soft-sell approach to their cause marketing.57 One interesting recent cause program is the PRODUCT(RED) campaign.58

PRODUCT(RED) The highly publicized launch of PRODUCT(RED) in 2006, championed by U2 singer and activist Bono and Bobby Shriver, chairman of DATA, raised awareness and money for the Global Fund by teaming with some of the world’s most iconic brands—American Express cards, Motorola phones, Converse sneakers, Gap T-shirts, Apple iPods, and Emporio Armani sunglasses—to produce (RED)-branded products. As much as 50 percent of the profits from sales of these products go to the Global Fund to help women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. Each company that becomes PRODUCT(RED) places its logo in the “embrace” signified by the parentheses and is “elevated to the power of red.” Although some critics felt the PRODUCT(RED) project was either misguided or overmarketed, more than $275 million has been donated to date, an enormous increase over donations to the Global Fund prior before the program launch. Many well-known brands have joined the cause since then, such as Bank of America, Beats by Dr. Dre, Microsoft, and Starbucks.

DESIGNING A CAUSE PROGRAM Firms must make a number of decisions in designing and implementing a cause-marketing program, such as how many and which cause(s) to choose and how to brand the cause program. “Marketing Memo: Making a Difference: Top 10 Tips for Cause Branding” provides some tips from a top cause­marketing firm.

Some experts believe the positive impact of cause-related marketing is diluted if a company is only occasionally engaged in a number of causes. Cathy Chizauskas, Gillette’s director of civic affairs, states: “When you’re spreading out your giving in fifty-dollar to one-thousand-dollar increments, no one knows what you are doing. It doesn’t make much of a splash.”59 Many companies focus on one or a few main causes to simplify execution and maximize impact. McDonald’s has focused on children and family health and well-being through three major programs:60

  • Ronald McDonald Houses in 35 countries and regions offer more than 8,000 rooms each night to families needing support while their child is in the hospital, saving them a total of $657 million annually in hotel costs.
  • Ronald McDonald Family Rooms in 23 countries help 4,000 families each day with a place to rest and regroup at the hospital next to their sick child.
  • Fifty-two Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles in nine countries provide neighborhood on-site medical care for children.

Limiting support to a single cause, however, may limit the pool of consumers or other stakeholders who can transfer positive feelings from the cause to the firm. Many popular causes also already have numerous corporate sponsors. More than 130 companies, including American Airlines, Dell, Ford, Georgia Pacific, Merck, Samsung, and Walgreens, have become corporate partners of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.61 Thus, a brand may find itself overlooked in a sea of symbolic pink ribbons.

Opportunities may be greater with “orphan causes”—diseases that afflict fewer than 200,000 people.62 Another option is overlooked diseases; pancreatic cancer is the fourth-deadliest form of cancer behind skin, lung, and breast yet has received little or no corporate support. Diabetes is linked to the deaths of many more people than breast cancer but receives significantly less funding support. Even major killers such as prostate cancer for men and heart disease for women have been relatively neglected compared to breast cancer, though some firms have begun to fill the void. The American Heart Association launched a “Go Red for Women” program, with a red dress symbol and a national “Wear Red Day” sponsored by Macy’s, to draw attention from corporations and others to a disease that kills roughly 12 times as many women a year as breast cancer.63

Most firms choose causes that fit their corporate or brand image and matter to their employees and sharehold- ers.64 LensCrafters’ Give the Gift of Sight program—rebranded OneSight after the company was purchased by the Italian firm Luxottica—is a family of charitable vision-care programs providing free vision screenings, eye exams, and glasses to millions of needy people in North America and developing countries around the world. Luxottica pays most of the overhead, so more than 90 percent of all donations goes directly to fund programming.65 Barnum’s Animal Crackers launched a campaign to raise awareness of endangered species and help protect the Asian tiger. Issuing special edition packaging and collaborating with the World Wildlife Fund, the Nabisco brand saw a “healthy lift in sales.”66 Here is an example of a firm that used cause marketing in part to successfully build a new business.67

TOMS Although Blake Mycoskie did not win the reality show contest Amazing Race, his return trip to Argentina in 2006 sparked a desire to start a business to help the scores of kids he saw who suffered for one simple reason—they lacked shoes. Shoeless children incur a health risk but are also disadvantaged by often being barred from school. Thus was born TOMS shoes, named to suggest “a better tomorrow,” with a pledge to donate a pair of shoes to a needy child for each pair sold. Picked up by stores like Whole Foods, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus and also sold online, TOMS shoes are based on the rope-soled, canvas-topped alpargata footwear of Argentina and can now be found on the feet of more than 1 million kids in developing countries. The donations were good marketing too. The firm has garnered heaps of publicity, and AT&T and American Express even featured Mycoskie in a commercial. TOMS also sponsored “A Day Without Shoes” promotion to help people imagine what life would be like shoeless. Some critics feel the brand is treating a symptom but not really addressing the root economic problem and that it could even be undermining the local shoe economy. Nevertheless, it has moved into eyewear with the same business model and is estimated to earn $250 million in revenues annually while giving away literally millions of shoes and now eyeglasses.

7. MARKETING MEMO Making a Difference: Top 10 Tips for Cause Branding

Cone, a Boston-based strategic communications agency specializing in cause branding and corporate responsibility, offers these tips for developing authentic and substantive programs:

  1. Select a focus area that aligns with your mission, goals, and organization.
  2. Evaluate your institutional “will” and resources. If you, your employees, and other allies don’t believe or invest in your organization’s cause, neither will your audience.
  3. Analyze your competitors’ cause positioning. There are few remaining wide, open spaces, but this may help you locate a legitimate societal need or an untapped element within a more crowded space that you can own.
  4. Choose your partners carefully Look for alignment in values, mission, and will. Carefully outline roles and responsibilities. Set your sights on a multiyear, sustainable relationship with annual measurement of accomplishments for both partners.
  5. Don’t underestimate the name of your program—it’s key to the identity of your campaign. Develop a few words that say exactly what you do and create a visual identity that is simple yet memorable. The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women, and Target Take Charge of Education are good examples.
  1. To create a sustainable and effective program, start by developing a cross-functional strategy team. Include representatives from the office of the CEO, public affairs, human resources, marketing, public and community relations, research/measurement, and volunteer and program management, among others. If you’re in silos, you will spend too much valuable time building bridges to other departments to get the real work done.
  2. Leverage both your assets and those of your partner(s) to bring the program to life. Assets may include volunteers, cash and in-kind donations, special events, in-store presence, partner resources, and marketing/advertising support. And, remember, emotion is one of your greatest assets. It can help you to connect with your audience and differentiate your organization in a crowded marketplace.
  3. Communicate through every possible channel. Craft compelling words and visuals because stirring images can penetrate the heart. Then take your messages beyond traditional media outlets and become multidimensional! Think special events, Web sites, workshops, PSAs, expert spokespersons, and even celebrity endorsements.
  4. Go local. National programs reach the “grass tops,” but true transformation begins at the grassroots. Engage citizens/volunteers through hands-on activities at local events, cause promotions, and fund-raisers.
  5. True cause leaders constantly evolve their programs to add energy, new engagement opportunities, and content to remain relevant and to build sustainability.

McDonald’s has focused its cause marketing efforts on Ronald McDonald House Charities which includes its Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles to provide local medical care for children.


Cause-related marketing supports a cause. Social marketing by nonprofit or government organizations furthers a cause, such as “say no to drugs” or “exercise more and eat better.”68 Some notable global social marketing suc­cesses are:

  • A mass media campaign to promote oral rehydration therapy in Honduras significantly decreased deaths from diarrhea in children under 5.
  • Social marketers created booths in marketplaces where Ugandan midwives sold contraceptives at affordable prices.
  • Population Communication Services created and promoted two extremely popular songs in Latin America, “Stop” and “When We Are Together,” to help young adults learn sexual responsibility.
  • The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute successfully raised awareness in the U.S. about cholesterol and high blood pressure, which helped significantly reduce deaths.

Different types of organizations conduct social marketing in the United States. Government agencies include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Departments of Health, Social, and Human Services, Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The literally hundreds of nonprofit organiza­tions include the American Red Cross, the United Way, and the American Cancer Society.

Choosing the right goal or objective for a social marketing program is critical. Should a family-planning cam­paign focus on abstinence or birth control? Should a campaign to fight air pollution focus on ride sharing or mass transit? Table 23.3 illustrates the range of possible objectives.

While social marketing uses a number of different tactics to achieve its goals, the planning process follows many of the same steps as for traditional products and services (see Table 23.4).69 Some key success factors for changing behavior include:70

  • Choose target markets that are most ready to respond.
  • Promote a single, doable behavior in clear, simple terms.
  • Explain the benefits in compelling terms.
  • Make it easy to adopt the behavior.
  • Develop attention-grabbing messages and media.
  • Consider an education-entertainment approach.

One organization that has accomplished many of these goals through the application of modern marketing practices is the World Wildlife Fund.71

WORLD WILDLIFE FUND The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit with 1.2 million members in the United States and 5 million globally. Its annual budget does not allow for lavish marketing, so it relies primarily on creative direct marketing to solicit contributions. The organization sends about 36 million pieces of eco-friendly mail in the United States each year, garnering 65 percent of its membership revenue in the process. It has an award-winning Web site, is active on Facebook and Twitter, and earns revenue through partnerships with a host of firms including Avon, Disney, The Gap, and Build-A-Bear Workshop. Partnerships sometimes include joint marketing programs; Coca-Cola donated $2 million for a campaign to help create safe areas for polar bears in Canada and other Arctic regions. WWF also tackles important wildlife issues head on, as with its multimedia anti-poaching campaign, which used billboards, print ads, public service announcements, and online posters with the tagline “Stop Wildlife Crime—It’s Dead Serious.”

Social marketing programs are complex; they take time and may require phased programs or actions. There were many steps involved in curbing the prevalence of smoking: release of cancer reports, labeling of cigarettes as harmful, bans on cigarette advertising, education about secondary smoke effects, bans on smoking in restau­rants and planes, increased taxes on cigarettes to pay for antismoking campaigns, and states’ suits against tobacco companies.

Source: Kotler Philip T., Keller Kevin Lane (2015), Marketing Management, Pearson; 15th Edition.

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