Posted 03/01/10 by Natalie Zmuda and Emily Bryson York on Advertising Age
Is it possible to have a coffee, buy a car or go shopping without saving the world? Not these days.
And now you can also host a pancake breakfast, send Girl Scout cookies to the troops and shelter stray pets, thanks to a friendly corporate sponsor. In addition to the now-requisite cause marketing, brands such as Quaker, Pepsi, Prilosec and Bisquick are turning to so-called microsponsorships of a few hundred or few thousand dollars that go straight to the consumer to fund their own pet project. The most visible of these is Pepsi Refresh, in which consumers can apply for grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000.
Industry experts say that this approach has its benefits: engaging with consumers in social media, boosting small charities that can’t compete with marketing juggernauts such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and free market research that results in more effective advertising campaigns.
But there are also plenty of pitfalls. These campaigns invoke a spray-and-pray mentality by hitting myriad causes, making return on investment difficult to measure and increasing the possibility of aligning with a bad actor.