The End of Cause Marketing

OrwellCompanies engage in cause marketing because it enhances their credibility with consumers.  The more favorably consumers view you the more likely they are to buy from you, especially when product and price are equal. 

But what if a company didn't need cause marketing (gulp) to be "good"?  What if they didn't need to "earn" a halo because they were making them?

Lee Gomes wrote in the Wall Street Journal last week that buying an Apple computer use to make you feel like a "better person than you'd be if you didn't."  He points to Apple's "1984" Super Bowl commercial as evidence of a company that was about more--and thought more of--than just computers.

Of course, Apple doesn't do the "social virtue" stuff anymore.

All those iPod commercials and billboards seem to promise nothing more than to transport the user to a state of feverish urban trance.

Exchanging a halo for headphones is one thing, but Apple's decision to run Windows is like Luke Skywalker going over to the "dark side".  And we all know that redemption only happens in the movies. 

Gomes longs for the days when Apple gave consumers the chance to take a moral stand, even if it was only on which computer they bought.

It's hard to spend your life working for peace, justice and a society rich with opportunities for all.  It's pretty easy, though, to buy a computer and tell yourself that by doing so, you're somehow still helping to fight that good fight.  Good deeds become equated with good shopping.

Apple's shift from "good" computers to "cool" iPods reminds me of a scene from The Sopranos.  Two corrupt public officials are recalling their 60's roots and one asks, "What happen to the Revolution?"  The other says, "The Revolution got sold."  I guess in the end they all do.  But what's bad for the revolution is good for the cause marketer.

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