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What Is Cause Marketing?

Cause marketing is a partnership between a nonprofit and a for-profit for mutual profit. For example, you may be familiar with the partnership between Komen for the Cure and athletic shoe maker New Balance. Komen licenses its signature pink ribbon to New Balance, which is included on a line of products, including walking and running shoes.

Komen profits from the sale of these products and gains valuable exposure. New Balance enhances its favorability with a key demographic, women shoppers, and owns the rights to a must-have product for Komen’s many walking and running events across the country.

Pinpointing exactly when the first cause marketing campaign was created is like asking who discovered America. The Vikings? The Chinese? The English? The Native Americans who lived here?

Regardless of who was the first to marry cause and company together for charity and commerce, the “Columbus moment” when people became aware of this new world was 1983 when American Express partnered with the Statue of Liberty restoration project. In this arrangement, the restoration project received a penny for each use of the American Express card, and a dollar for each new card issued. In just four months, $2 million was raised for the project.

American Express was a big winner, as well. Credit card activity increased 28 percent, and cause-related marketing, or cause marketing, as it’s more often called, was born.

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