Leila Badyari

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Cause marketing meets social media: boost your brand image while promoting social change

on March 31, 2015


Social media for cause marketing

Marketing strategies that take on a social angle are attempting to build relationships with consumers. Reaching out to your customers through a powerful social awareness campaign strengthens this relationship. It makes customers feel connected to the brand on a human level and leads to advocacy and loyalty –  traits that can support your brand during both the good and the bad times. This altruistic marketing approach adopted by numerous brands, has been termed cause marketing, and has taken over traditional marketing strategies in a big way! Brands as diverse as Amul and Vogue are jumping on the bandwagon by endorsing various social causes. The most powerful platform for this purpose in today’s world is social media. Over the last several years, there has been an explosive growth on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and many others. Therefore, it is safe to say that the need for social media in business has only become stronger overtime. As a result creating a cause marketing strategy that uses social media to engage with consumers, has a greater likelihood for success. However, it is important for brands to remember that there is a fine line between taking a social stand and simply trying to score marketing points.


cause marketing-towards humanizing your brand

Social media has become a powerful tool in the hands of marketing experts and it is increasingly used for the purpose of cause marketing. In some cases brands have re-invented their image in order to reflect the social cause they are championing. This drastic change in social marketing strategy is based on the premise that customers feel a greater sense of affiliation and loyalty towards brands that stand for culturally relevant concerns. Successful marketing creates an emotional connection with customers and takes an affirmative stand. There are many ways to do this but today’s consumers are more responsive to a specific kind of warm fuzzy marketing. Cause marketing aligns a brand with a social cause with the goal of generating business and benefiting society.Often it leads customers to feel that companies have retained a humane element in a world of constant competition and chaos. The impact on the brand’s image is largely positive and inspires renewed interest and trust in brands that are making efforts to recognize crucial challenges faced by many sectors of society. Among the major causes that have been endorsed by brands are gender equality, racism, discrimination and LGBT rights.

Women Empowerment

The need for women’s empowerment has been haunting India and the world in almost all aspects of life. A number of popular Indian brands have chosen to revamp their image keeping in mind the significance of women’s rights in the current cultural and social climate of the country.

 Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign

#IsLaundryOnlyAWomansJob? created a frenzy on Twitter and was a positive indicator that Ariel’s new social marketing strategy was turning into a great success. The #ShareTheLoadCampaign attempts to highlight gender stereotypes in India and is a call to action for people, especially men, to be more involved in household chores. The success of this campaign is evident when you compare Ariel’s online popularity to common competitors like surf excel.

Ariel on social media

Surfexcel on social media

With 77% of Indian men depending on women to do the laundry, Ariel optimized their social marketing strategy by incorporating the ever increasing need for gender equality in India. By doing so, they were able to increase their target audience to include the male population and improve their likeability among the female population.

Cause marketing by Ariel



Myntra’s support of Farhan Akhthar’s MARD initiative

Men against rape and discrimination (MARD) is a campaign initiated by Bollywood actor and director Farhan Akhthar in 2013.He attempted to popularize this campaign using social networking sites. The tweets posted by Akhtar were hugely popular. More recently Myntra joined the bandwagon of brands championing for social change and collaborated with Farhan Akhthar to provide support for his initiative. As per the deal, has exclusively launched MARD T-shirts. This collaboration saw a huge hype on Facebook and twitter and increased the popularity of the brand amongst women customers and simultaneously reignited the interest in the MARD campaign.

Myntra MARD campaign


#VogueEmpower – ‘ It starts with you’

Vogue was awarded “Media Title of the Year” at the Women’s Empowerment Journalism Awards 2015.This was in response to the brand’s recently launched women’s empowerment campaign. In celebration of its 7th anniversary in October 2014, Vogue India embarked on a social awareness initiative called #VogueEmpower. This initiative was led by a simple message- ‘it starts with you’, reaching out to men in the country. As a part of this campaign the brand roped in several celebrities to lend support. Recently Vogue collaborated with director Homi Adajania and Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone, to create ‘My Choice’ – a short film dedicated to #VogueEmpower. The video sends a powerful message about a woman’s right to freedom and choice and created quite a stir on social media.

Social media marketing by Vogue

The #VogueEmpower initiative is one of the publication’s biggest success stories as ongoing support floods in from around the world.


Listed below are a few of the tweets on #VogueEmpower

Cause marketing by Vogue

LGBT Rights

More and more brands are joining the LGBT-friendly bandwagon and their efforts have received positive acknowledgement globally.

Ben & Jerry’s

The socially-minded ice cream makers re-branded two flavours in support of same-sex marriage. Chubby Hubby was renamed ‘Hubby Hubby’. In addition, when same-sex marriage was on the table in the UK, Ben & Jerry’s renamed the apple pie flavour available there ‘Apple-y Ever After’.

Cause marketing by Ben & Jerry's


NIKE #BeTrueCause Marketing by Nike

The colourful #BeTrue collection by Nike includes uniquely designed footwear that is inspired by the LGBT community, and celebrates the passion and pursuit of sport by all athletes.A portion of the profits from sales of #BeTrue items are donated to the LGBT Sports Coalition, and aims to end discrimination in the athletic world. This bold move by NIKE is a poignant example of marketing strategy which is aimed at social change. Nike actively used social media outlets to publicize their campaingn signifying their unconditional suppport to the LGBT community.

Cause marketing by Nike


Amul’s ‘Freedom of Choice’ initiative

Amul is one of the oldest and biggest food brands in India. Its famous billboards, featuring the Amul Girl, always focus on typical Indian issues. However, the brand came out in support of the Indian LGBT community after the country’s top court upheld Section 377 of the constitution, which enforces India’s ban on same-sex intercourse.

Social marketing strategy by Amul



62% of global consumers will switch brands if one works with ‘good causes’ and the other does not. By weaving social issues into their marketing strategy brands are hoping to create a ‘viral’ effect, wherein their campaign, and as a result their brand, receives as much attention as possible. The hope is that customers will respond with loyalty and enthusiasm by realising that by connecting with a product they are connecting with a larger community.

Often brands are subject to criticism or controversy as a result of their cause marketing. In some instances, the target audience is not able to empathize with the views the brand resonates. Inadvertently the brand loses popularity among certain sections of the population and runs the risk of alienating customers. This reflects the brands tolerance for risk and draws attention to the fact that although something might go ‘viral’ it does not necessarily enhance a brands image.

There are times when the cause championed by a brand is seen as relevant but the campaign is lacking in sensitivity or vigour. In this case customers feel the company or brand is representing a social cause without being adequately informed or mindful about the intricacies of the issue.Following the launch of their ‘Race Together’ initiative, Starbucks found itself at the centre of a Twitter storm. The campaign’s hashtag #RaceTogether was among the top trending topics on Twitter in the US in March – mostly in the form of mockery and anger. Although the brand’s intent was to create awareness about racism their strategy failed to convey their message effectively.

Cause marketing by Starbucks



Find Your Target Audience

It’s very important to know who your audience is when organizing your social-cause campaign. The more you engage with your audience the more successful you will be. Determine where your target audience spends their time, on which social networks. Each social network is unique and so are its users.

Seek a Non-Profit Partner That’s Active on Social Media

Campaigns partnered with causes that have a dedicated social media presence are more successful. It’s not the size of the non-profit that’s important, but rather their level of participation on social media and the campaign.

Show Impact

Especially in the online world, it’s important to point out how the smallest of actions translates into a real-world difference.  As in any cause marketing campaign, this typically comes down to providing compelling stories.


Once your campaign is over, don’t let all of your hard work go to waste! Continue to talk about your efforts and leverage the campaign results, photos and success stories for new content. Start planning for next year and make it an annual event.


Most consumers today are active on multiple social networks, thus, a successful cause marketing campaign requires innovative strategy and vivid imagination. However If executed effectively, a good social campaign can mould into a movement! When your brand is associated with this movement, it creates a strong presence in the market and the minds of the consumers and yields great power. This leads to a win- win -win situation that benefits the social cause, the consumers, as well as your brand.

Posted in: All Articles, Facebook, Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Marketing Tips, Twitter

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