The innovative cause marketing campaign behind the Centrum Guardians crusade recently won international recognition being honoured with the Global Eye on Innovation President’s Award. The campaign, conceived by One Lady and A Tribe advertising agency, won the award for achieving significant business impact through innovation.
“This is true cause marketing – doing good and doing good business and not just CSI. The campaign has had a significantly positive impact on South Africa’s Emergency Services finally giving the people who work in the industry the recognition and reward they deserve. I believe that the Centrum Guardian campaign is a leading and innovative cause marketing strategy in South Africa,” said Sheila McGillivray, ‘Tribe’ leader.
The ‘guardians’ are South Africa’s emergency services workers – the paramedics, fire fighters and rescue volunteers – who save lives on a daily basis. The initial television ad developed into a TV series on SABC 3 presented by Ruda Landman. By linking with the TV series, the individual PR communication representatives who work on the different Emergency Services’ accounts have together over 2012 received a total value of R16 million with a return on investment of 1:120.
The Media Online asked McGillivray to give her insights into cause marketing, and its impact on South African lives.
How does corporate social responsibility advertising differ from ‘commercial’ advertising in terms on planning and placement of the material?
I prefer to use the term ‘cause marketing’ rather than CSI. The reason? CSI has become associated with what we refer to cheque book charity and is not often vested in a true sustainable cause. Cause related marketing is about using marketing money, techniques and strategies to support worthwhile causes whilst at the same time building the business – doing good while doing good business.
It is not really any different from planning conventional campaigns – it is developed first and foremost with the selected Cause in mind and how that resonates with brand and the company vision and values. It is important that the Cause reflects the core competencies of the brand. It encompasses all the traditional communication channels.
Does PR play more of a role in CSI/CSR campaigns? How important is the link between PR and advertising when it comes to delivering a meaningful message?
PR has a significant role in cause marketing. Good reputation is a vital element in the business success equation and it is important that the community in which the cause is significant, are a aware of the support –they are after all the consumers. The selected cause need to be intimately involved in the initiative and the link between PR and delivering the message is important to demonstrate shared value.
“Shared value is not social responsibility, philanthropy, or even sustainability, but a new way to achieve economic success, It is not on the margin of what companies do but at the centre.
We believe that it can give rise to the next major transformation of business thinking”
Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer ‘Creating Shared Value: How to reinvent capitalism – and unleash a wave of innovation and growth.’ Harvard Business Review – Jan- Feb 2011
Do you think the South Africa public has donor/poverty/NGO fatigue? There are just sooooo many desperate organisations out there. Does/should advertising play a role in keeping up awareness or is it really someone else’s responsibility?
There is without question donor fatigue not just in South Africa but globally. But cause marketing is about a long term investment in a collaborative plan to deliver a win win for both brand, and the cause. It is not simply doling out cheques to good causes; it is about shifting the business model.
Can corporate social investment advertising also be good advertising?
Without question. It enhances the emotional connection with consumers and engenders brand loyalty.
Do you think SA consumers are at the stage where they look at the ethical/CSI stance of the companies whose products they buy? Are we ‘aware’ consumers?
Consumers are increasingly sophisticated, cynical and demanding of everything they come into contact with especially brands and businesses. Research demonstrates that consumers have no doubt that businesses have a significant role to play and a responsibility for addressing social issues.
Are South African companies up there when it comes to CSI and brand association with causes?
Yes, but too few integrate the causes they support into brand strategies – it is often only found in the Annual Report and consumers are not aware of the impact on society.
Your Centrum/Guardian campaign stands out. What was the process that drove that campaign, and what were the elements of its success?
In order to meet the brand’s strategic imperatives, the plan was to develop an umbrella initiative that would be able to accommodate Centrum’s various business and marketing objectives in order to deliver results. It was a challenge that uncovered an interesting and important train of thought:
· Multivitamins are essentially an unemotional purchase in an unashamedly emotional domain: people’s health.
· By leveraging this key insight, we could reposition Centrum as an emotional brand that truly cares about people.
· The most natural and effective way to align a caring brand personality with Centrum’s key brand benefits (i.e. unlocking energy, strengthening immunity and maintaining health) was to build and develop the notion that Centrum helps people ‘Live life at 100%’.
· We had to find a way to position Centrum as a brand that goes beyond superficial lifestyle benefits but rather helps you make the most of life on a fundamental level when your body needs it most.
South Africa’s Emergency and Rescue Services personnel are prime examples of individuals who face extreme physical and emotional exhaustion every day. Unfortunately, their sacrifices to save the lives of complete strangers come with very little recognition and even less financial reward.
• It was decided to be proactive and develop a campaign that aligned the core competencies of the Centrum brand with the stressful lifestyles of Emergency Service personnel.
• The idea of creating “Centrum Guardians” was founded in the belief that the
Emergency Services personnel are the guardians of the public who needed the very best multivitamin to provide energy, immunity and health – because they, more than most of us, need to consistently perform at 100%.
• In essence, the campaign would identify and reward individuals or teams working in any of South Africa’s emergency and rescue services for acts of bravery, where they have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
• By paying tribute to the men and women of the Emergency Services in the public domain, we were able to create awareness and well-deserved recognition for this challenging industry.
• At the same time, we were able to communicate our core brand attributes in a way that stood out from the market clutter by virtue of the fact that it was different, emotive and able to create awareness among a far broad target audience.
In 2012 the Centrum Guardian Project evolved to become a 13-part TV series on SABC 3. The initiative has delivered increased sales year on year for the brand and has heightened the awareness of South Africa’s Emergency Services amongst the South African public and the amazing work they do.
What are your personal causes or cause?
One Family at a Time – Child Headed Households
Mandela Day. I have worked pro bona with the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory for the last 4 years developing the strategy and campaigns for Mandela Day.
Emergency Services of South Africa. A passion we have developed since we launched Centrum Guardian in 2008.
Is there a difference between traditional advertising and advertising a company’s socially responsible behavior? Both are attempts to increase sales and profits.
Cause related marketing is about doing good and doing good business. So it means that the company and brands create a shared value in the community in which they market their brands.
It should not be a fringe activity – the social issue/cause needs to be integrated into core strategies. The aim is to create shared value, a concept that reflects the belief that generating profit and achieving social progress are not mutually exclusive.