It goes without saying that a brand’s behavior carries more meaning and influence than the words it speaks or puts in its advertising. This is especially true when it comes to cause marketing. Too many brands simply jump on the bandwagon for a cause that they think might win points with consumers. Just think about how many times you’ve seen the word green in an ad campaign.
So you might be impressed with a company called Dancing Deer Bakery. In support of the bakery’s favorite cause – ending homelessness — Head Deer Trish Karter recently cycled 1500 miles in 15 days, from Atlanta to Boston, stopping at shelters each evening, bearing gifts of ginger bread houses and icing, visiting with families less fortunate than herself, then sleeping at the shelter or in an RV in the parking lot before riding another 100 miles the next day.
Unlike many corporate programs, designed to call attention to the company rather than the cause, Trish’s effort – six hours a day on a bike, enduring rain, wind and exhaustion — felt authentic.
Dancing Deer believes in direct action programs that help homeless families establish more stable lives that can lead to homes of their own. So the company gives 35 percent of the retail price of its Sweet Home line of baked goods directly to scholarships as a pathway out of poverty to economic self-sufficiency. The program works so well that according to Dancing Deer “not one of the mothers who has completed the program has returned to a shelter.”
The ride itself demonstrated direct action. Not only did it present powerful proof of the company’s commitment, it offered a way for supporters to get involved, along with a platform for generating press coverage for both the bakery and its mission. It also served as a reminder to brands everywhere that living what you stand for is a lot more compelling than talking about it.
What are you doing to prove your beliefs? It’s easy to run an ad, lend your name to a cause, or write a check. But no doubt consumers will notice, and perhaps remember, the difference between brands that attempt to buy goodwill and those that contribute time, energy and perspiration. What inspirational corporate acts have you seen recently? Do you work for, or buy from, a company that makes action part of its mission?