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Chicago ad execs see value in cause-related marketing

By: Lewis Lazare, Chicago Business Journal

Let’s hear it for cause related-marketing. Attaching a brand to a worthy cause — and using that cause to help market a brand — is something Chicago’s advertising community has grown to wholeheartedly endorse and applaud when they see it being smartly utilized more and more often to sell products as different as shoes and condoms.
“There is no shortage of shitty things happening in this world, so cause-related marketing is a great thing to have in this world,” observed Otis Gibson, founder and chief creative officer at the boutique agency Gertrude Inc./Chicago.
Toms Shoes is one brand that has become famous for its cause-related marketing efforts. Toms gives one pair shoes to a child in need for every pair a customer purchases — what the shoe company calls its “one for one” program.
“When a brand aligns itself with a cause that people believe in very strongly, it can be a powerful marketing tool, and it makes people feel good,” explained Don Brashears, a co-managing partner at Tom Dick and Harry Creative/Chicago.
By way of example, Brashears pointed to discount retailer Target, which has long aligned itself with education-related causes.
Another young company that is tapping into cause-related marketing is Sir Richards Condoms, a Boulder, Colo. based business whose natural latex condoms are available in Whole Foods grocery stores — another big believer in cause-related marketing.
Since it was founded two years ago, Sir Richards has been donating one condom to a developing country for every condom it sells. Lest anyone think the world has evolved to the point where condoms are no longer needed, think again.
The latest statistics from the United Nations Population Fund show that four in 10 of the 186 million pregnancies that occur in developing countries each year are unintended — meaning they were unwanted or were not wanted at the time.
Sir Richards is an offshoot of the TDA Boulder advertising agency in Boulder, Colo. The fledgling condom company has been getting some wise marketing counsel from Alex Bogusky, the widely-respected cofounder of the Crispin Porter + Bogusky ad agency. Bogusky left the agency several years ago to work on other projects important to him.
Cause-related marketing is but one way the Sir Richards brand is being built. Everything else about the brand — from the distinctive plaid packaging to the range of branded merchandise customers can order — suggests smart marketers had a hand in developing the product.
Plus Sir Richards recently introduced a “Pretty Please” mobile app that adds another fun twist to the Sir Richards brand profile. The photo-sharing app allows a user to send a recipient a photo. But before the recipient is granted permission to actually see the photo, he or she must agree to complete a task. If the photo sent happens to be particularly racy, the app will delete the photo in a specified amount of time.

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