Cause and effect: The case for cause marketing

Brands and agencies can do better in a lot of different ways. Looking for somewhere to start? Do good! We look at how to do good right.

The fizz and fake sentiment has (for the most part) settled after the Pepsi debacle. Yet, we still can’t stop using it as an example for all sorts of bad work. The concept that no bad ideas exist does not apply in this case, with the nagging question, “Who let this idea see the light of day?!” still lingering. While we could easily dissect the anatomy of this unfortunate idea with relish, the most apparent issue with the campaign was its inauthenticity. Using tense times in which revolt was necessary for marginalized communities in society to be heard and mimicking the sentiment with a phony revolution lead by Jenner and coming from a soda company? Ya, that doesn’t make any sense and caused the world to unite in loudly calling ‘bullshit’ on the brand.

Like with most tactics in marketing and advertising, the key to success is laid in the foundation of authenticity. Yes, the term is a little buzzy, but it’s legitimate and the best word to describe what we’re getting at. When picking an influencer, the key is finding a person whose values, personal brand, and actions align with your own brand. The same can be said for cause marketing. These campaigns and efforts only work when there’s a clear connection between the cause and the brand. If you’re just picking a cause to hitch your wagon to because it’s the topic du jour – one that has no relation to what your brand does, what the culture of your brand is, or one that you don’t actually care about – the effect of the effort is going to reek of insincerity.  

Obviously, utilizing cause marketing is never a completely selfless act. But there are good people in marketing, and there’s no denying that doing good is good for business. With 55% of consumers claiming they’d be willing to pay more for products that come from a brand that has demonstrated a commitment to something that matters – a social cause – it’s just good business sense to give back. Cause marketing, if done correctly – with care, and authenticity – can have amazing effects for your brand.


Giving back or partnering with an organization on a cause that matters to your company as well as the consumers is a great way to get press and increase brand awareness. The announcement will capture your audience’s attention in all the right ways. Our client Highline BETA’s diversity-in-venture-capital group Female Funders recently released a report on gender disparity in the VC world. Not only does this show a commitment to the issue, but it got people talking and garnered press in publications like The Globe and Mail and BetaKit.


Finding authentic ways to give back to causes close to the community won’t only ring true with colleagues in the industry, but it will reinforce your company’s values to employees who work with you for that very reason, as well as catch the eye of new talent whose views align with yours. Recently, inkbox, a popular Toronto-based tech startup, executed an awesome collaboration with SickKids. Not only was this collaboration cool, timely, and manage to melt our cold hearts, but it helped to support a cause close to those in the tech community inkbox is a part of, surely garnering support from the community and increased attention from those wanting to join the team.


Using your brand’s voice to back a cause not only strengthens the group’s purpose, but it helps to reinforce your brand’s story. As previously stated, this can work wonders for your company culture (Buzzword warning!), but it can also help to differentiate yourselves from the competition. When our client foodora announced a national sustainability program it not only reinforced the company’s commitment to the cause, but proved they’re actually doing something to improve their own sustainability and increase their environmental friendliness – something not all their competitors can claim.

Brands may be trepidatious about employing cause marketing for their next campaign but if you can answer yes to the following questions – do I actually care about this, will my audience actually care about this, do the stories match up, will this do some good – you should definitely give giving back a try.