Companies often pair up with social causes to create a meaningful impact, but more so to drive authentic consumer engagement and brand building. The advent of social media has been a fruitful platform for raising awareness on social causes as well as gaining consumer trust points and participation.
Not many of us were aware of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), until the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral on the social web last year, with Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg also taking up the challenge. It managed to raise over a $100 million alongside awareness on the disease. It also managed to inspire desi versions of the social media challenge for a cause like the Rice Bucket Challenge.
Hindustan Unilever’s award-winning campaign for Lifebuoy is the most unforgettable one, when it comes to recalling social cause marketing campaigns that went viral. The soap brand that has been an active proponent of handwashing with soap, kickstarted a movement “Help a child reach 5” to instil hygienic handwashing behaviour in schools and villages.
The idea stemming from a sad statistic that each year infectious diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia claim the lives of 2 million children under the age of 5. The solution is simple – promote the importance of hygienic handwashing through various programs, one of which involved social media. A heartfelt digital film about Gondappa and his son Muthu was created for the campaign, while Facebook and Twitter was abuzz with pledges and the hashtag #helpachildreach5.
The 3-minute film garnered over a million views in the first two weeks and now stands at 19M+ views.
While the soap brand blended hygienic handwashing as a cause marketing tactic, other brands like Tata Capital came up with a solution to multiple social causes.
The financial services arm of The Tata Group launched the ‘Do Right’ platform, and embarked on “The Journey of Doing Right – Half Stories”, an action-oriented initiative in partnership with United Way of Mumbai, a global NGO.
Unique stories of courage and determination from some of the remotest parts of the country were highlighted, along with the challenges faced by the individuals or the community. These ‘Half Stories’ were then spread through social networks, wherein one could directly donate through the platform or simply share with their social connections. The award-winning campaign not only leveraged the collective power of people through social media, but also helped establish the brand philosophy, ‘We only do what’s right for you.’
2015 has also been an interesting journey for cause marketing campaigns that made an impact.
1. Vistara #FlyTheNewFeeling
Vistara, the joint venture airline from Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, wrote a new chapter in the history of Tata Group that has been looking to re-enter the airline business in India ever since the last six decades. But, what the newly launched airline did on its maiden flight is an even bigger win for the brand.
Vistara partnered with the Salaam Baalak trust – a non-profit and non-governmental organization that provides support to street children of Delhi and Mumbai, to fly 12 kids on its first flight ever. The kids aged between 7 and 12 years were boarded first following other passengers and their absolute joy of flying for the first time was captured in a two-minute film titled, “When little feet found their wings with Vistara #FlyTheNewFeeling.”
The campaign managed to create a connect around the brand promise, ‘#FlyTheNewFeeling’ along with a meaningful differentiation.
2. Johnson Tiles ‘Red Ramp Project’
Bath tile maker, Johnson Tiles wanted to sensitize the Indian society towards making public places disable-friendly. Most of us able-bodied beings aren’t aware of the need for this. With over 10 million physically challenged people who can’t go to the beach, the temple or church, airports, malls, etc, there arose a need to demonstrate how the country’s public spaces needed to be made disable-friendly.
Johnson Tiles launched the ‘Red Ramp Project’ wherein a ramp was built on Kiri beach in Goa. Disabled people could now visit the beach via the tiled ramp and feel the waters lapping at their feet. A campaign video was created with three protagonists who had varying physical challenges. The film showed how this ramp helped them fulfil a long awaited dream – to visit the beach.
This is the story of Fredrika Menezes, who has cerebral palsy, is a writer, a poet, and an author by profession; Salil Chaturvedi, a paraplegic, is a writer by profession who has represented India in Wheelchair Tennis and is the only disabled person to have sailed Mumbai to Goa; Anuraag Khandelwal, who has polio, is the ECD at creative agency Soho Square, whose work has won many national and international awards.
A campaign website asked people to make a petition for a disable-friendly India, while the digital film helped build awareness.
3. Ching’s Secret ‘India ke hunger ki bajao’
There’s no denying that the right celebrity endorser can boost the media coverage of a cause-related campaign. Ranveer Singh, one of India’s current favourite actor lent his magic to a noble cause campaign by Ching’s Secret.
The premium Hakka Chinese brand walked the talk through its latest mission – ‘India Ke Hunger Ki Bajao!’ in partnership with Akshaya Patra, a not-for-profit organisation that runs the world’s largest mid-day meal programme. Ranveer, the brand ambassador spread the central message of the campaign – it takes only Rs 750 to feed a child for a whole year’.
A digital film featured the actor having a good time with school kids, while they figured out what all can be bought with Rs. 750 in these times. A campaign website served as an information and donation hub.
The cause campaign helped Ching’s Secret lend an actionable voice to its tagline, ‘Hunger Ki Bajao’.
4. Turtle #SaveLittleShelly
Men’s lifestyle brand, Turtle launched a cool awareness campaign around World Turtle Day that was driven by social media – #SaveLittleShelly. The idea was to raise awareness on conserving the endangered species as well as highlight the brand’s role with the environmental cause.
An animated baby turtle called Shelly was created for a four-part series on YouTube. Viewers were taken through the journey of little Shelly right from the time she hatches till she reaches out to the sea, after having braved a number of natural predators on the way. The story moved forward with user likes and shares, that also translated into donations for the cause.
#SaveLittleShelly not only reinforced the brand’s association with the environmental cause, but also got its consumers to join in.
5. Paper Boat #FloatABoat
This monsoon, traditional drinks brand, Paper Boat got everyone to make paper boats and share pictures of their boat on social networks. The incentive? For every paper boat image that is shared on any social network, the brand would donate Rs. 20 towards children’s education.
For the campaign titled #FloatABoat, the brand teamed up with Parivaar Ashram, a humanitarian service organization. A microsite captured all the floating paper boats on social networks, while the brand shared adorable films on the cause and how to make a paper boat told through a school girl.
#FloatABoat helped the brand strengthen its proposition of ‘Drinks & Memories’, and also bring back childhood to those from whom it had been snatched.
6. Nivea India ‘Mom’s Touch’
Skin care brand, Nivea India touched our hearts with its recent social initiative #MomsTouch that brought forth stories of extraordinary mothers. Nivea partnered with Aseema Charitable Trust, an organization dedicated to provide quality education to children from marginalized communities.
The social media driven campaign portrayed the story of some extraordinary mothers who want the best future for their child, despite having faced adversities all throughout their own lives. Viewers could join in the noble cause either by sharing the video on their social networks or by direct donations to the charitable trust. Each time one shared the film, Nivea contributed 100 grams of rice.
Mom’s Touch helped Nivea strike the right chord with its consumers and also provided them with an incentive for social sharing.
Although not new, providing incentives to consumers for participating has become a “must do” in cause marketing campaigns. Else, just the feel-good factor of making a petition or taking a pledge does the magic in driving consumer action. Translating consumers’ likes and shares with brand contribution is a great way to bank on the power of social media.
Do you know of any other social cause marketing campaigns that did well on social media?