Charity Cross-Promotion FAIL

Often, a good marketing strategy includes teaming up with a charitable organization. It’s a promotion that’s good for everyone– the charity receives donations for its cause; the business gets a great marketing message, and customers feel good about helping out.

When crafting the marketing message, it’s important to be tasteful, use tact, emphasize the cause over your own gain and clearly explain how customers’ actions will help the cause. In other words, the message should be the opposite of this:

This graphic is the header to an email sent out by an insurance company promoting a move to paperless statements. How the marketers failed to see it’s also offensive, I don’t know. Here’s what’s wrong with it (and what all businesses should avoid in charitable cross-promotions):

  1. It’s obviously self-serving and doesn’t name the charity. Getting customers to “Go paperless” is likely one of this company’s goals. The main goal of a charitable cross-promotion should be to promote the charity.
  2. It has overtones of guilt. The implied message is, “If you don’t go paperless, you won’t be helping someone with cancer.” Charitable cross-promotions should never insult or try to coerce customers.
  3. It’s confusing. How can going paperless possibly help someone with cancer? The action should be tied to the cause. We’ve all seen this promotion work when the message is more like, “Save a tree by going paperless.”

For this company, cross-promoting with a charity completely failed. I hope the charity benefits, but the business and customers won’t.

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