The Golden Rule

Finding cures. Educating young people. Fighting hunger. Caring for those in need.  It’s not surprising that the nearly universal appeal of those classic causes make them the focus of the overwhelming majority of cause-marketing campaigns. 

Over the last few years, however, it has been fascinating to watch a new type of cause marketing emerge that preaches the importance of behaving decently. It’s what I call Golden Rule Cause Marketing. Consider these campaigns:

Since 2008 Liberty Mutual has strengthened its reputation as a company that “does the right thing” through The Responsibility Project, a multi-faceted exploration of the issue of personal responsibility. In addition to using mass and social media to get people thinking and talking, it has awarded more than $500,000 to organizations using sports to teach life lessons and backed programs that get adults and their elderly parents to have difficult conversations about senior driving.



In July, Office Depot launched “We Supply Kindness,” a back-to-school campaign with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation intended to create a kinder,braver world and a safer more accepting environment in schools.  

There are more anti-bullying initiatives out there these days then you can shake a stick at: 

  • Back in 2011, Procter & Gamble’s Secret antiperspirant created “Mean Stinks”, a Facebook-centered effort “to give young women the courage to stand up to stinky behavior.”

  • Last spring, Cartoon Network and Facebook shared a Cause Marketing Halo Award for their 2011 collaboration on “Stop Bullying: Speak Up.”
  • Last month, Sears launched “Team Up to Stop Bullying” to raise funds for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and other nonprofits working on this issue.

Why have companies invested in campaigns built around such themes? One doesn’t need to be a professional trend watcher to observe that division and just plain nastiness seem to surround us these days. Angry nasty commentators and negative political advertising jump out at us each time we turn on the television. Social media conversations can quickly turn to name calling when conservatives and liberals mix.  

One terrible option would be for companies to latch onto this negativity, but I’ve not seen much evidence of that. I’m heartened that so many leading companies believe that linking their brands to themes one is used to hearing from the pulpit makes moral and business sense. My fingers are crossed that the marketplace will reward their efforts. 

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