The Best & Worst Local Cause Marketing Programs of 2010

I combed through the Selfish Giving archives and came up with the best and worst local cause marketing programs of 2010. I took the unprecedented step of not including any of my own cause marketing programs. (I know, I'm as disappointed as you are.) Here are the seven best local cause marketing programs for 2010.

Program: Create-a-Sweater Pinup Program

Location: Atlanta, GA

Details: Students at this Atlanta school signed on to make and sell a Create-A-Sweater pin-up. A local company matched every donation dollar for dollar up to $1,000.00. Monies raised went to an agency that helps seniors in need so they can continue to live independently at home.

Why it's on the list: This is grassroots cause marketing at its best. And the idea to have the kids actually make the pinups was ingenious.

Program: Dickies/Salvation Army of Metro Detroit

Location: Detroit, MI

Details: Work apparel maker Dickies program for the Salvation Army of Metro Detroit is a great example of product cause marketing. They donated 5,000 pants to the Army with the promise to donate an additional pair for each 874 sold for a total potential donation of 10,000 pants.

Why it's on the list: Cause marketing programs don't always have to involve cash. Although Dickies generously donated $25,000 alongside its product donation.

Program: New Balance/Komen Pinup Program

Location: 134 franchised stores across the United States.

Details: This programs was the brainchild of Chris Mann, the former associate manager, brand marketing at New Balance (who's now a hotshot account director at Cone) who wanted to further educate NB customers and store employees about his company's support for Komen for the Cure. Pinups sold for five bucks and the program raised $29,000.

Why it's on the list: New Balance has raised millions for Komen, why do pinups? Because Chris saw the value of further engaging customers and employees with a simple but powerful cause marketing program.

Program: Foursquare Check-in for Charity

Location: SXSW 2010, Austin, TX

Details: When you checked-in on Foursquare at select locations at SXSW Microsoft and PayPal donated $0.25 to Save the Children up to $15,000.

Why it's on the list: This was one of the first and best cause promotions involving a location-based service.

Program: Whole Foods Register Programs for Charity

Location: Newton, MA

Details: These register programs at my local Whole Foods benefit a different charity every month. Customers have the choice between donating $2 or $5. While cashiers aren't required to ask shoppers to donate, the signage for the program is clearly visible on the credit card machine on the register. In short, Whole Foods does everything to encourage its shoppers to support good causes without directly soliciting them.

Why it's on the list: Most of the charities Whole Foods raises money for are local charities, like the YMCA in my town. Whole Foods is a big company that could work with any national charity it wants. But it chooses to help causes in the communities in which it has stores.

Program: Hannaford Supermarkets/Keep Local Farms

Location: 171 stores across New England

Details: A passive cause marketing program that included $2 and $5 price points for shoppers. They also had educational information on Keep Local Farms available at all stores and on select milk cartons.

Why it's on the list: Most large supermarket chains focus on health-related causes. But Hannaford turned down a program opportunity with my hospital and others so they could stay true to their values and focus on the environment, local agricultural and husbandry.

Program: Purple with a Purpose

Location: 1,100 Dunkin Donut locations across Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.

Details: On World Alzheimer's Day, 1100 Dunkin sold Purple With A Purpose donuts. To make this an even sweeter promotions, Dunkin contributed $10,000 from its foundation to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Why it's on the list: I was initially underwhelmed by this program and used it as an example why causes should focus on register programs and cause products instead of cause promotion. It turns out I didn't have all the details! In the comments section of my post, I heard from the local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. They assured me that the $10,000 was a minimum and based on sales of the Purple with a Purpose donuts they would be receiving much more.

Here are the three worst local cause marketing programs of 2010.

Program: Panera/Maria House Fight Over Who Gets the Bread

Location: Iowa

Details: This charity sued Panera Bread for withholding donations which it reportedly used to pay expenses for fundraising events.

Why it's on the list: While there's nothing wrong with a fundraising events having expenses that are paid from gross revenues, Panera shouldn't have kept any monies that were clearly suppose to go to charity. On the other hand, how did the charity let this turn into a court case? The first of its kind, by most accounts.

Program: Audi/Best Buddies

Location: A street corner in Boston

Details: Following a car accident in Boston, the public learned that Audi gave New England Patriots QB Tom Brady the $90,000 car as part of a sponsorship agreement the car maker had with Best Buddies "in appreciation of his participation" with the charity.

Why it's on the list:  Instead of accepting the car, this is what Brady should have said. “Thanks, but give the car or some money to Best Buddies instead. I’m the highest paid player in NFL history, if I want a car I’ll buy one. If you want to give me a car, sign a a sponsorship deal with me.” BTW, Audi promptly gave Brady another car to drive so no lesson was learned. Brady is great football player. But a really dumb cause marketer.

Program: Buckets for the Cure

Location: Poor communities across America

Details: 50 cents of every bucket ordered by Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant operators during the promotion period went to Komen for the Cure. Promotion was held at 5,000 locations nationwide and over $4 million was raised.

Why it's on the list: This program obviously doesn't fit neatly into "local cause marketing." But the message this program sends, especially to poor communities where many KFC restaurants are located and where obesity is a serious problem, makes this "criminal marketing" not cause marketing. The fact that KFC released its new Double Down sandwich--bacon and cheese between two fried chicken breasts--highlights the chains total disregard for social responsibility.

I'm looking forward to including some of these great local programs in the new book I'm writing with Joanna MacDonald for Wiley Publishing: Cause Marketing for Dummies. It will be out next summer!

This is my list of best and worst local cause marketing programs of 2010. What's on your list?