Making an Impact with Cause Marketing

April 12, 2018 | B2C Cause Marketing

Cause marketing is becoming increasingly important for brands. It is no secret that Corporate Social Responsibility, the efforts a corporation makes to assume accountability for its effect on the environment and the social wellbeing of its stakeholders, has become an overwhelming phenomenon among businesses throughout the years. In turn, more than 80% of consumers have stated that they would switch from one brand to another if the other brand was associated with a good cause. As a result, more and more companies are straying from traditional methods of advertising and instead teaming up with nonprofit organizations or causes in order to make a difference in the community and boost their own brand (and morale) in the process.

Of course, while determining what cause to jump on board with, it is important to identify organizations that align with your brand if you want to be successful. Here are a few brands who did cause marketing right:


Cause marketing at a music festival? Sounds a little off-beat, but believe it or not there’s a lot to be said about CLIF Bar’s introduction of a philanthropic element to its Pitchfork Music Festival sponsorship. For one, festivals generally attract a younger crowd, and since millennials are the major proponents of socially responsible marketing, a cause-based experience was right on the money, literally and figuratively. Also, the festival setting provided CLIF with plenty of time to relay the importance of its partnership with Alliance Great Lakes, a nonprofit dedicated to conserving and restoring the Great Lakes. To attract festival goers into the conversation, the brand offered music-themed Inbox tattoos in exchange for a $10 donation to the Alliance. CLIF then matched each donation, effectively contributing $20 to the cause with every tattoo. With each tattoo applied, the Alliance was able to make the most of the time by discussing its programming and CLIF Bar’s “protect the places we play” activation theme, allowing both the brand and the nonprofit to gain much needed traction on the initiative.


We’ve all heard of running for a cause, but in a clever twist on standard cause marketing strategies, Prudential’s free 4.01K Race for Retirement turned the runners themselves into the cause. The goal? To boost awareness of the need for Americans to increase their retirement savings. Participants could donate to their own cause by vowing to contribute an additional one percent of their annual income to retirement at a designated Pledge Station.

But an initial donation was not enough. Integrated throughout the racecourse were retirement-related questions such as “Are you completely prepared for retirement.” each followed by a tracking gate that matched the runners’ response. More than 40 additional on-site engagements accessed via RFID wristbands helped participants plan and prepare for their retirement. Bonus: Prudential also made a $25 donation for each registrant to the 1:1 Fund, an organization that helps fund college for children from low-income homes. Everybody benefits. Everybody wins.

Google Made with Code

Who run the world? Girls! That’s how 100 teen girls felt at Google’s Made with Code, which launched in 2014 to inspire millions of young girls to try coding and strive to pursue their dreams. With inspiration from the movie Wonder Woman, Made with Code teamed with Warner Bros Pictures to develop the Wonder Woman coding project, bringing together more than 100 girls from local non-profits in Los Angeles for a day of empowerment, coding and fun. Bringing the event to life was Sparks who came in with various activations throughout the day, combining just the right amount of learning and fun within the day’s events. From Hollywood red carpet experience to inspirational keynote from Amber Kirsch, the movie’s Lead Visual Effects producer, the girls learned how coding plays an important role in movie making, and even had a chance to try their own hands at coding three unique scenes. The evening ended with a private screening of the movie, leaving the girls in awe of the experience and inspired to pursue their dreams in a world that is predominantly male driven.

Maker’s Mark

Proving that you don’t need expensive gifts and swanky parties to spread some holiday cheer, bourbon brand Maker’s Mark teamed up with One Warm Coat, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing anyone in need with a warm coat, for the Give Cozy, #GetCozy mobile tour. Along the tour, the organizations collected lightly used winter coats to help those in need, while treating donors to hot chocolate, Maker’s bottle-shaped gingerbread cookies and free swag. The tour ultimately resulted in 20,000 donated coats, while the campaign as a whole drove 26.4 million impressions across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, earning the brand 40,000 new followers. Now that’s doing well by doing good.

When you think about it, everyone wins with cause marketing. The nonprofits gain significant recognition and crucial funding thanks to the brand’s involvement, and the brand earns credibility and positive perception among its consumers, which result in sales. Most importantly, the communities and causes they support reap the benefits of their efforts. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and find out how your brand can make a difference, too.

Check out other brand activations designed and produced by Sparks here.

Posted by Talin Hartounian | Request as a Speaker

Event ninja by day, tapas-enthusiast by night. Traded San Diego beaches for Philly cheesesteaks. Honorary member of the Royal family, waiting for her big break. Hey Oprah, call me maybe?