From the editor

Something To Believe In

July 15, 2009
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Back in 2004, you couldn’t walk into a room or turn on the TV without seeing that little yellow wristband. Kids. Celebrities. Politicians. They were all sporting a rubber Livestrong bracelet they’d bought for $1 to benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

And while it’s not quite the fashion statement it once was, the canary yellow wristband resulted in nearly $70 million in fundraising and has become one of the most visible-and successful-cause marketing efforts in recent memory.

Of course, the campaign had a strong celebrity component. Armstrong’s inspirational battle back from cancer made him a global hero, and celebrities were quick to show their support.

In wearing the yellow bracelets, people were able to emulate their icons and, at the same time, offer visible proof of their good will.

But there’s more to it. The ubiquity of the bracelets revealed how strongly people are looking for something to believe in-how they’re thirsting to belong to something that matters. And those insights have increasing relevance for brands in these turbulent times.

So what’s your cause? And-more importantly-how can consumers band together to manifest their support?

To be sure, you should approach cause marketing with care. Consumers have been promised a lot of things lately and you shouldn’t underestimate their ability to (eventually) see through inauthentic pledges.

The key lies in the daringness to stand for something. And maybe it’s just ONE thing. If you clutter the effort with too many promises of support, then it’s not a stand for something but, rather, everything. And then you’ll be just one of many who’ve let consumers down. BP

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