Cause Related Marketing: Advertisement Feature - Take a walk on the wild side

The World Wide Fund for Nature's education work and famous panda logo have helped it get ahead in the world of marketing. Richard Cook explains all

Thirty-five years ago the trustees of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) wrote in their first ever report that "an ever increasing proportion of the Fund's income must be devoted to teaching people, and especially young people, the fundamental principles of conservation".

A generation on, those young people have grown up into today's ethical consumers: they are the people who are quietly changing the way companies communicate their advertising and marketing messages.

They are the people who have successfully insisted that big business puts the soul back into selling.

Today WWF is again leading the educational battle, only this time its subjects are the companies themselves and the lessons it is handing out are on how they too can enjoy this new kind of righteous rapport with their customers.

The change has happened with an impressive haste.

It was just three years ago, for example, that the world of advertising and marketing still seemed to be stuck in some sort of brutalist Groundhog Day. It seemed fated daily to re-live the same shocking ads.

In 1995 the Independent Television Commission announced it had received more complaints about TV commercials than ever before, nearly 4,000 in total.

In that same annus horribilis, Adrian Holmes the chairman of the multinational advertising agency group Lowe Howard-Spink stood on a conference podium at the industry's biannual conference and warned of the moral vacuum advertising and marketing was starting to inhabit.

Why, he asked, were the values that informed everyday life not being reflected in the advertising or marketing?

Where was the spiritual dimension?

There was a new ethical consumer, he pointed out, a consumer that had grown up with good causes and was now even prepared to let those causes shape their buying patterns.

Advertising was currently failing this valuable constituency and simply couldn't afford to ignore them much longer.

The trouble was that shocking, offensive ads were selling. An ad for Harley Davidson featured a young man putting his wife on the game to help support his Harley habit. The moral majority might have tut-tutted at this, but the bikes sold in their thousands.

And then suddenly people had had enough. They weren't impressed by cheap promotions that screamed down at them from every supermarket shelf.

They wanted value in their marketing lives in the same way as they were increasingly coming to demand it in the rest of their lives. They wanted their marketing to have meaning.

That might mean cause-related marketing in its simplest form, but increasingly it also means they want a more committed relationship between charity and business.

"Cause-related marketing is generally seen as something that adds value to a company's marketing campaign or offering," explains WWF's head of corporate partnerships, Patrick Chapman, "but we go one stage further than that.

"We're about values being added. We try to offer companies an integrated, holistic approach that doesn't just cover a specific tie-up or promotion but that sets down a blueprint about how we can work together with business to achieve both our goals."

But then as an environmental charity WWF encounters business with one considerable in-built disadvantage.

According to the available research, companies initially prefer to work with education and health charities, which, as a general rule, strike a chord with the public.

But companies' first choice is to work with charities that can deliver on their marketing objectives, and it's here that WWF is in a powerful posi-tion. It enjoys that position thanks to its insistence on education.

WWF remains one of the biggest producers of environmental education resources in the UK. It works with all the existing education systems, helping to educate tomorrow's consumers about sustainable growth and also shaping today's purchasing decisions.

The role that children play in the purchasing decisions of their entire families has long been guessed at, but it took the advertising giant Saatchi and Saatchi to commission the first proper research into the area.

The staggering findings led to it opening a specialist unit dedicated solely to marketing to children, Saatchi & Saatchi Kid Connection.

The research looked at 11 major product sectors, and concluded that in the UK alone, kids influence over pounds 31 billion of spending carried out by adults each year.

And their influence doesn't merely spread to the sort of products you might expect, like toys or breakfast cereals.

In fact a third of respondents agreed that their children influenced the type of computer they bought, for example, and around a fifth agreed that they played a part even in the choice of a major purchasing decision like a house or car.

The famous panda logo of WWF and the slogan "This Panda Means Business" together constitute one of the world's most recognised brands and companies like BT, MBNA International Bank and Crown Wallcoverings have already linked up with the charity to form strategic marketing partnerships.

A series of award-winning ads in the trade press, with slogans like "Proof that you can have 14-hour lunches and succeed in marketing" and "How would you like a warm cuddly feeling every time you see your sales figures?", coupled with pictures of the panda, have helped to get the message across effectively to the business community.

And business is already starting to enjoy the environmental kudos that linking with WWF can undoubtedly lead to.

"What we are offering is little short of an environmental audit service for companies," points out WWF director of fund-raising and marketing, Ian Wratislaw, "and we do that by refusing to rule out potential partners right at the beginning of the relationship for whatever reason. We accept that companies' first instinct is the bottom line.

"All we ask is that they are showing demonstrable progress, and that they really do want to try to make an environmental difference. If they mean that, then we can help."

That help will be geared towards helping the company achieve its marketing objectives as well as environmental aims.

"The thing about the environment and business is that it is such a powerful fit," explains Chapman. "After all, environmental sense is business sense.

"And that's the connection, because at the end, the bottom line of green is black."

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test