Tying the Cause to the Brand


Walking on the streets of New York City, it is easy to get trapped shopping for items that we may not necessarily need. One day, while I was shopping at MAC cosmetics, I came across their Viva Glam products and learned about MAC’s involvement with the HIV/AIDS programs. Each year MAC sets up a new campaign for their Viva Glam line where 100% of proceeds go to a HIV/AIDS programs. When companies partner with charitable organizations, it gives consumers the opportunity to become involved with that cause. MAC illustrates a strong connection with cause marketing and inspires consumers to take action.


In 1974, John Carr established The Foundation for Charitable Giving as a way of “giving back” by engaging charities and companies to support one another. Cause marketing is a facet of social media. The Foundation for Charitable Giving organization was prompted by John Carr’s focus on enlisting companies to give back referral fees on what they might normally pay for marketing and having that money redirected towards the charity or cause of the buyer’s choice. Over the past 40 years, cause marketing has redirected millions of dollars of revenue to various charities, and nonprofit organizations.


In 1994, MAC launched the Viva Glam campaign benefitting people who are affected with HIV/AIDS. Each year Viva Glam creates a limited edition lipstick where 100% of the proceeds go to the MAC AIDS fund. Since 1994, MAC has raised over $250 million dollars in lipstick sales to support their fund. By incorporating social media and celebrity spokespeople each year, MAC’s charitable efforts are a very effective example of cause marketing strategy. MAC continues to pioneer innovative cause marketing programs that connect companies with charities, allowing consumers to engage in a positive cause.


Many companies have come to recognize cause marketing as a catalyst for their brand. According to Cone Cause Evolution Survey, that measures consumer’s consumption, 87% of consumers would rather purchase from a brand who are associated with a good cause.[1] Associating a brand or product with a charitable cause can be seen throughout many companies who are developing social responsibility initiatives.


When a company teams up with a celebrity, it is important that the celebrity has strong ties with the cause. Each year Viva Glam asks a different celebrity that genuinely supports the Viva Glam cause. Celebrities such as RuPaul and Lady Gaga have been long time advocates for the gay community and donate their time to raise awareness and donations for the HIV/AIDS fund. As Nancy Mahon, senior vice president of MAC, said, “We as a company give more to AIDS than any other company in the world. Last year, we raised $38 million and gave that all away. We would be happy for more company, so we not only encourage customers to make a difference but also other companies. It’s a wonderful testament that you can do in the world and do good business.” The commitment to a cause allows the consumer to keep coming back for more MAC products. Year after year consumers are excited to see which celebrity will be the face for Viva Glam and purchase the limited edition lipstick. Cause marketing allows MAC to strengthen their brand’s reputation and create a deep connection with their consumers who become inspired to take action for a good cause.

When planning your own marketing campaign, here are 5 tips that can lead you to success:

1. Being Authentic: The key factor of cause marketing is authenticity, and consumers are able to detect whether or not a company or brand does or does not have an organic alignment with the charity. It is important to work with a cause that has personal relevance with your brand.


2. Charity Proceeds: It is important that a percentage of the proceeds go to your charity. Many companies operate their campaign for a specific period of time, or can serve as a permanent campaign. Creating a new product line specific to your campaign can build a compelling strategy.


3. Product Line: Creating items such as clothing or a specific product for your campaign can promote your campaign. By having an item with your campaign name on it will bring exposure and will allow your consumer to feel as part of the cause.


4. Events: Events allow you to gain focus on your campaign and can be conducted through many parts, such as parties, fairs, educational seminars, concerts and more. However, to create a successful event depends on the nature of your campaign.


5. Press Coverage: It is important to always have media coverage on your campaign to bring exposure and awareness. Marketing campaigns allows you to gain attention and create awareness to your consumers.


1. Cone Cause Evolution Survey