Cause Marketing with QR Codes. Did Chili's and St. Jude Miss the Mark?

This is a guest post from Bob Jones of For an overview of their service check out my post There She Blows! Cause Marketing, Mobile Gifts Surface with You've probably heard about the successful partnership between Chili’s Grill & Bar and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. This longstanding cause marketing pact has raised tens of millions of dollars with its Create-A-Pepper to Fight Childhood Cancer campaign.

This year alone the campaign raised $5 million.

A new feature of this year's campaign was a QR code on coloring sheets and table tents that took smartphone toting patrons to an information and donation page.  Including a QR code on a major campaign such as this one is impressive enough, but here's the real news: patrons scanned the QR code a whopping 291,000 times!

Critics of QR codes take note: consumers know what QR codes are and how to access their online content.

“By incorporating the QR codes into this charitable campaign, it was a great way to relate to Chili’s tech-savvy guests while giving St. Jude supporters another, easily accessible way to donate to the charity,” said Chili’s spokeswoman Julie Flowers.

While I admire the partnership and the creativity of including a QR code, Chili's and St. Jude missed the mark on maximizing donations.

When scanned, the QR code took the user to this page.


Click on "3 Donate Online to Make a Difference" and you go to this page.

The missed opportunity is obvious. This is where the user hits a wall. Would you want fill in all these boxes on your phone?  The giving opportunity is DOA. 291,000 scans, but I bet you could count the number of donations made on this page with your hands and toes.

There's a better solution: Give.Mobi.

The donor can easily make a gift with PayPal, credit or debit card or a simple pledge option. In each case, you can make a donation in seconds because delivers a mobile experience that closes the gift. You also get real-time tracking of every donation by location so you can keep tabs on which restaurants are leading the pack, or lagging.

QR codes for cause marketing are a great idea. But without a mobile-ready donation page to make giving easy, potential donors will navigate their giving elsewhere.

Cause Marketing Success may be as Close as Your Next Oil Change

Our friends at Cone this week shared that Jiffy Lube had already reached more than 65 percent of its $1 million national fundraising goal for the 2010 Maintenance Partners for Life campaign. Thanks to customer support at the register for a $3 savings book, the fast lube franchise has already raised $658,655 for the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement in just three weeks, as of February 22. More than 1,700 Jiffy Lube locations across the U. S. are participating in the campaign that kicked off February 1 and runs through March 14.

I love this program because it highlights a few key points I always talk about on my blog.

Point-of-sale works. Pinups, savings books and register programs in general are not sexy or cool but they can raise a boatload of money.

Combine cause with coupons. I'd have to ask Cone if they track this info, but my team and I are strong believers that cause combined with savings and coupons at the register give shopper that added incentive (and just reward) to make a gift.

Fast lube businesses are great partners. I've written all about them here. But you need to set realistic expectations. Here's why.

Locations + Foot Traffic = $$$. The fast lube companies we've worked with average 50 to 60 customers a day. That's a not a lot of traffic compared to say a supermarket, which can checkout 100 customers or more an hour. Fewer customers means fewer asks at the register, and fewer asks means less money for your cause. Fortunately, Jiffy Lube, like the other fast lube businesses I've worked with, has committed employees, skilled sales people and a whopping 1,700 locations to drive fundraising.

Lots of locations is why Jiffy Lube will raise a million dollars  for AHA. Lots locations AND lots of foot traffic is why Chili's raised $6.4 million for St. Jude. Either way, both are great partners. But you should know how to measure what you can expect from each.