Hollywood Helps Nonprofit Bring Home the Bacon

celebrity cause marketing

Could your next cause marketing partner be Hollywood? It was for Arkansas-based Heifer International after Paramount Pictures and Walden Media came calling for help promoting Charlotte's Web. The partnership worked for several reasons.

They both liked farm animals. Charlotte's Web features an assortment of cows, geese, rats, ducks, sheep and one adorable pig named Wilbur. Heifer battles poverty around the world by supplying farm animals--and the know-how to take care of them--to farmers. The fact that the movie and Heifer had a strong, natural connection made this partnership an easy sell.

Lesson: Pursue partners with whom you have a natural synergy. I know, it's common sense. But it's not common practice.

They both leveraged their assets. Heifer promoted the movie to its 160,000 pig-loving members and agreed to run petting-zoo events - great grass-roots marketing - when the movie went to DVD. In turn, the studio will give away 45,000 booklets at stores and theaters that will tell moviegoers how to build barn-themed collection boxes to raise money for Heifer.

Lesson: Each partner brought an asset to the table that the other valued. Heifer had a large supporter base that was a natural audience for the movie. The studio had access to movie-goers who might be more receptive to Heifer's fundraising pitch after watching a cute pig for two hours. What do you have that a potential partner would value?

They're both realistic. The folks at Charlotte's Web know that working with Heifer is another - not the only - way of promoting the movie, which, of course, was heavily promoted with traditional media. What will Heifer get out of the booklets and barn-themed collection boxes? Money-wise, probably very little. But it will get some great exposure and a connection to a wonderful, humane family movie that may become a touchstone for supporters.

Know-how and where cause marketing fits in to the marketing mix and be realistic about what it can accomplish.  A studio would never rely on just cause marketing to sell movie tickets.  And if Heifer expects a big windfall from the collection boxes, they'll be waiting a long, long swine.