Cause Marketing Forum Award Finalists

Next week cause marketers will descend on Chicago for their annual gabfest–The Cause Marketing Forum Annual Conference.

In conjunction with that, the organization gives out its annual Halo Awards recognizing “innovators” in the field. I thought this would be a good time to take a look at some of the finalists, which I will do over the next few weeks. Remember, what I am presenting here are considered the best in the category.

The first campaign that caught my eye was in the category of Best Digital Campaign. Feast for All was an advertising campaign for Pepto-Bismol which supported Feeding America. This campaign worked much like a Hamburger Helper (HH) campaign I write about in Compassion, Inc.–a celebrity (Beyonce) tells consumers to buy HH and money goes to pay for meals to help feed the hungry. In this case instead of consumers buying Pepto Bismol, they had to go to Facebook and “like” a turkey that had been prepared by “Modern Family” star Eric Stonestreet. (This campaign ran during November last year, which explains the turkey.)

“Feast for All” represents a continuing trend–using charities (and celebrities) as a way to build up corporate social media efforts and generate consumer research information. People are more likely to support causes that their friends are also interested in. You see when your friends “like” something on Facebook. It pops up on your page and you think, “Oh, Susie, likes Pepto and they’re giving food to the hungry and all I have to do is click a button. Ok. Cool.”

But is it?

Beyond the fact that this campaign turns human suffering into a sales pitch (and humorously at that), what the heck were the brand people thinking? Using a product related to eating too much to support a cause to feed people whose stomachs are hurting because they can’t get enough? Seriously? That’s like Susan G. Komen tying in with KFC–fast food being a leading contributor to obesity and in turn breast cancer.

Is this really the best that cause marketing can do?

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