How Much Cause Marketing is Too Much? My Experience on Delta

This is a guest post from my friend and fundraiser-in-arms Marc Pitman of TheFundraising-Coach.com

My friend Joe Waters got me to seriously think about cause marketing. (After all, he wrote the book!) Thanks to him, I’ve now been seeing cause marketing everywhere…sort of like when you buy a car and then start seeing them all over the place.

Enough Already Today was a bit over the top. I was on a Delta flight back from conducting a board orientation in Chattanooga. As the beverage service was about to start, the stewardess told us that Delta’s annual tradition in October was to sell pink martinis and pink lemonade. Money from those drinks would support cancer research. She repeated this same basic information at least three times. And, despite having said only credit cards could be used to purchase food, she repeatedly said cash could be used to by the pink drinks or to simply make a cash donation.

I kind of felt that awkward feeling you can feel in church when the plate was about to be passed: you feel sort of captive and not really sure you want to support what they’re talking about at the level they seem to expect.

They’d made this same pitch on the way down to Chattanooga so I shrugged it off. Although I thought three separate times, especially pushing martinis in the morning, was a bit overkill, I chose to be glad for the fundraising.

But Wait There's More Then about 30 minutes later, something happened that I’ve never experienced in all my travels. As the crew was preparing to collect trash, a stewardess got on the intercom and started monologuing on the importance of recycling. “This crew recycles, even when the other Delta crews don’t even though their supposed to.”

Not a compelling start!

She went on to explain that the recycling generates cash proceeds that are given to Habitat. Despite her long speech, she never connected the dots on how that putting the plastic cups in her hand instead of the trash bag became money. But she told us Delta gave $76,000 to Habitat for Humanity in 2010. And Delta employees all over the country were giving up vacation time to build Habitat houses to help people like those displaced by Katrina.

Is it Just Me All this pushy messaging felt like a heavy handed dose of self righteousness with a dash of good corporate citizenship. While I’m glad Delta is making good philanthropic decisions, did we really need to have it shoved in our face?

Is it just me? Have you seen corporate giving come across oddly? But how else will companies let us know the good they’re doing?