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Social Cause Marketing - The Regis Group Inc

Social Cause Marketing - The Regis Group Inc

Social Cause Marketing - The Regis Group

P L A T F O R M Volume XII, No. 09 September 2009 Editor E N Murthy Managing Editor GRK Murty Consulting Editor Dr. Nagendra V Chowdary Editorial Team SV Srirama Rao (Associate Editor) JAR Moorthy (Associate Editor) Devi Rajnikanth I Murali Krishna Jeen Jose Adilakshmi G Art Department Bangaru Babu A (Chief Visualizer) S Ganesh P R V Prasad Renu Kumar T Director (Production) H Sitaram ISSN 0972-5172 • © All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or copied in any form by any means without prior written permission. • Effective Executive is a registered trademark • The views expressed in this publication are purely personal judgements of the authors and do not reflect the views of The Icfai University Press. • The views expressed by outside contributors represent their personal views and not necessarily the views of the organizations they represent. • All efforts are made to ensure that the published information is correct. The Icfai University Press is not responsible for any errors caused due to oversight or otherwise. Printed at M/s. ICIT Software Center Pvt. Ltd., # 1, Technocrat Industrial Estate, Balanagar ‘X’ Roads, Hyderabad - 500 037, Andhra Pradesh and published on behalf of The Icfai University Press, # 126, Mahalaxmi Towers, Srinagar Colony, Hyderabad- 500 073, Andhra Pradesh. Editor: E N Murthy. Social Cause Marketing When I saw the print and video advertisements of Tata Teaís Jaago Re! campaign, I was pleasantly surprised. It was pleasant for two very important reasons: Itís probably one of those rarest of the raresówhere a company is not advertising (at least directly) its product. It is an equivalent of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in marketing, probably! The advertisement sensitized the Indian people to their voting rights, almost convincingly arguing that itís a (hopefully, once-in-five-years) responsibility. I am sure you would have come across Har Subah Sirf Utho Mat. Jaago Re! campaign. Wasnít it pleasant, for a change? Secondly, it is talking about the most powerful and vibrant part of any functional and operational democracyópeople voice. Of course, apart from Tata Tea, other Indian companiesófor instance, HULó have taken up social causes too. Itís a welcome change from all these FMCGs and why only FMCGs, by the way? I hope we would see more of these social cause marketing campaigns in future. Cynics would have their plate full of arguments. Why not? After all, if thereís no free lunch, why this? Just the way Adam Smith said, ìIt is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantagesî. The arguments aside, I am intrigued about: (a) Why social cause marketing? What is the intended objective? Why should companies commit their shareholdersí money for social issues? Or is it to do with the companyís values? (b) What is the difference between a Social Cause Marketing initiative and a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, after all? (c) Just the way brands are endorsed by celebrities (famous sports persons, actors, etc), should a social cause be endorsed by a powerful brand, in that the powerful brand becomes the celebrity endorser for the social cause taken up? What happens if an important social cause is addressed by a not-so-well-known brand? Would it have the same reach as a powerful brand would have? (d) At what stage of brand life cycle, would it be meaningful for any brand to get out of its comfort zone and start embracing social causes? (e) Are social cause marketing initiatives truly sustainable? The answers to these interesting dimensions of social cause marketing are provided by two experts, Mr. Harish Bijoor and Richard M Earle. Of all these questions, the most interesting and intriguing question is: Can every brand take up social cause marketing initiatives and even if they do, would they have the desired success? There may not be any scientific evidence at the moment. However, going by the available evidence, it can safely be concluded that the effectiveness and efficacy of social cause marketing initiatives would be far-reaching if they are taken up by well-known brands in the same way brands are endorsed by celebrities. In other words, can a newlylaunched brand take up social cause marketing initiatives? Even if they do, would they be as successful as the ones done by an established brand? And another dimension of social cause marketing is increasingly decreasing line of difference between corporate social responsibility initiatives and social cause marketing initiatives. Authors/experts tend to view these two ësocietalí dimensions of companies differently. While some argue that they are different, many strongly believe that both are serving the same menu with different recipes. What is most important in the case of social cause marketing efforts is that the initiatives taken up should complement and enhance the brand architecture. Bereft of perfect synergy between what the brand stands for and the social causes taken up, the exercise would definitely jeopardize the long-term interests of the company. Dr. Nagendra V Chowdary SEPTEMBER 2009 3 EFFECTIVE EXECUTIVE

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