Think About the Ink

Beware of cause-related marketing getting into your brain.


Now, we all think we’re a bit of a smart cookie when it comes to getting sucked in to advertising. Of course you are, you hang up the phone to telemarketers, you go make a cuppa during ad breaks, but from that tiny glance you get at the faintest whiff of a campaign designed by those crafty marketers they have already planted a seed in your head.

You, dear reader, may nay-say to this fleeting foray into marketing. What would I know about anything there is to know about nothing? Well, a recent study by Andrew Kuo and Dan Rice, titled The Impact of Perceptual Congruence of the Effectiveness of Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns (no you did not just have a brain aneurysm it really is that wordy) may in fact prove my point.

To break it down for you, Kuo and Rice were directly looking into cause-related marketing, which is a type of marketing linking a for-profit business with a not-for-profit organisation for mutual benefit. This might be something like Mount Franklin pairing up with the McGrath Foundation to raise awareness for breast cancer, for example. In the past, cause-related marketing had been seen to work when the firm and the caused were seen to link through conceptual attributes such as brand image and positioning. However, our daring marketing scientists wished to demonstrate the relatedness of perceptual attributes such as colour enhancing the effectiveness of cause-related marketing campaigns. And believe it or not, what they found was quite interesting.

Perceptions of firm-cause fit did not differ in their leukaemia as a function of lemonade colour, but this may have been due to the fact that the pre-existing link between bone marrow cancer and the colour orange is not widely known. However, if pink lemonade was to be paired with breast cancer research, consumers might perceive greater degrees of perceptual congruence due to the expectation of pink-coloured products.

Still a bit of mumbo-jumbo to you? If colours match between a for-profit business and a not-for-profit organisation, their cause-related marketing campaign is more likely to work on you. Not ground-breaking stuff you say? This gives the advertisers more fuel to add to their fire. Do not succumb to their wishes.

To quote the great Tyler Durden, “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need”. Don’t be a sheep following the herd, doing what the fat cats tell you. Make informed decisions and be a lion.

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