Cause Related Marketing: A Powerful Strategy for Organizations and Society

One of the most significant marketing practices that organizations are currently implementing is the cause-related marketing (CRM). CRM is the commercial activity by which businesses and causes or charities form strategic alliances to market an idea, product or service. CRM can create a positive image on the organization that uses it and can be also used as a differentiation strategy to build powerful relationships with consumers and other organizations.

More importantly, CRM can be not only considered an effective tool for positioning a brand, but also for delivering positive and tangible results to society. Therefore, both organizations and society can benefit from its implementation.

It is really common to see different organizations implementing this strategy in every industry, and one that is very attractive is the industry of sports. Sports are often related with positive traits (such as effort, perseverance, and leadership), they reach an enormous amount of the population and generate strong emotions. For these reasons, sports are constantly used to generate awareness and support for charity events. One great example of this is the partnership between the NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and his team Hendrix Motorsports with the AARP foundation.

The AARP foundation is an organization whose objective is to help struggling seniors. Since the latest recession, 9 million Americans above 50 years old struggle every day for food. This foundation provides to this segment of the population direct assistance (food and housing), raises awareness on society and has protected their legal rights. One of the main campaigns done by this organization is the Drive to End Hunger Campaign.

Drive to End Hunger was launched on February 2011. Its main purpose is to raise funds and awareness regarding the challenges, vulnerability and problems of Americans above 50. Through this campaign the foundation aims to support organizations who have been working in helping people with hunger, reach a greater amount of the population, commission more research, educate and invest in anti-hunger programs. So far, this campaign has been able to donate 20 million dollars to support hungry people and invest 385,000 in AARR state offices for anti-hunger programs.

Great part of its success is due to its partnership with Jeff Gordon and Hendrix Motorsports. This strategic partnership is considered the first cause-related sponsorship being signed as primary sponsorship for a major race team (Drive to End Hunger is Gordon’s primary sponsor). This partnership was signed in 2011 and will last until 2014. This alliance has been able to raise more than 17 million dollars and more than 13 million meals for hungry seniors. Not surprisingly, a great part of these contributions is done by NASCAR fans who constantly prepare boxed meals. Other companies, such as Quaker State, have contributed to this campaign.

It is important to mention that this is not the only engagement of Jeff Gordon in social causes. He also runs the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation to support children battling with cancer by funding programs to improve their health and support the Jeff Gordon’s Hospital in Concord.

Examples like this one are abundant in the sports industry. Leagues, teams and athletes from every sport and country constantly engage in some sort of cause or charity. People usually relate sports with positive emotions and ideas. Teams and athletes are frequently perceived as role models and for this reason they are almost required to be engaged with causes. CRM is a strategy that is going to be implemented more frequently and powerfully, especially among sports.

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