How To Authentically Embrace Cause Marketing Ideas

by Carla Eboli, Chief Marketing Officer

Let’s be honest, brands that try to embrace cause marketing ideas without authenticity in their core values face several obstacles. They end up losing their customers’ respect and are highly criticized by consumers, influencers and media alike (remember Starbuck’s “Race Together” initiative, right?). On the other hand, some brands are making waves by embracing relevant causes and impacting consumer behavior.


Start By Building Your Case: Stop Blowing Smoke 

Multicultural consumers are paying a lot of attention to companies/brands that are focused on tobacco cessation, since the use of tobacco products is a growing issue among Hispanic and African American youth.

In a high-tech world, vapor devices with USB charges and colorful e-cigarettes are the new “cool” gadgets for teens and young adults. With sleek designs and youth appealing flavors – such as caramel mocha, cereal berries, marshmallow and milk, melon bubblegum mint, among others – vape devices and e-cigs look less harmful and have been gaining young multicultural adopters by the thousands.

The latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that while cigarette smoking has declined among U.S. youth in the last 15 years (27.5% of high school students in 1991 vs. 9.3% 2015), the use of other trendy tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, vapor devices, hookah and cigars has been growing at a fast pace among high school students.


Analyze How The Issue Is Evolving: Shiny New Objects

The use of e-cigarettes among middle/high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014: more than 3 million middle/high schoolers are making use of e-cigarettes. “We want parents to know that nicotine is dangerous for kids at any age, whether it’s an e-cigarette, hookah, cigarette or cigar,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.


According to Frieden, “this is the first time since the survey started collecting data on e-cigarettes (2011) that the current use of it has surpassed current use of every other tobacco product, including conventional cigarettes.”


Among young African Americans, the “glamorization” of cigars by well-known artists and singers is one of the factors impacting the increasing consumption of the product.


How CVS Saw The Opportunity To Stay True To Their Mission

Two years ago CVS stopped selling tobacco products across all their stores, giving up $2 billion in sales per year. “Being purpose-driven is much more than a cause marketing strategy,” says Norman de Greve, senior VP, chief marketing officer. “It drives our operations, our acquisitions, our budget — we have embedded it in everything we do.” Since then, the company was listed as one of the most innovative and admired in several business publications, while in addition it gained support from 40% more influencers saying that CVS is a leader in helping to improve overall health.

Other Brands Follow Suit

At the beginning of this year, in partnership with Truth Organization, VANS launched a line of sneakers that carried anti-tobacco messages, created by graphic designer Kevin Lyons. The sneakers showcase a replica of a large mural created by Lyons in Raleigh, North Carolina, a city with a greater than average smoking rate. “We’re not just a shoe company,” says marketing executive Neil Schambra Stevens, as Vans celebrates its 50th anniversary. “It is our focus on people rather than products that keep it relevant,” says Stevens. VANS is the number one brand among young, urban skateboarders in US.



Disney CEO, Bob Iger also demonstrated the brand commitment with young people when he announced last March that the company was extending its “absolutely prohibited” smoking policy to all movies across the board including Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar.


How Do I Start Embracing Cause Marketing Ideas?

  1. Be authentic: it is not about trends, it is about your core. If it is not part of your core values, you will get called out;
  2. Be relevant: you can’t be a jack-of-all-trades. Find your cause and focus on building a relevant story;
  3. Be engaging: listening to your audience will help you understand what is relevant for them. Once people feel like they are part of your cause, they will naturally embrace it.


Ready to get started? Give us a call and we will be the very first supporters of your brand’s cause marketing ideas.



Dieste Inc