We’ve all seen those ads in which companies claim to better the world with your purchase. They attempt to unify their brand message with activism. And sometimes you’re left thinking… this cause has nothing to do with the company or the product! But the company is still serving a good cause, right?

As of recent, more and more for-profit businesses are either partnering with non-profits or putting their name behind a viral movement for marketing purposes. In theory, an arrangement like this is mutually beneficial: the non-profit receives funds and increases awareness for its cause, while the for-profit has the chance to improve its brand image.

However, due to cause marketing campaigns slowly becoming the norm and easier than ever for companies to partake in, consumers have begun to feel that it is unauthentic and not true to the brand. Rather, the main objective seems to be the increase of sales.

Here are some campaigns you might recognize that have leveraged cause marketing in their advertising — some of which didn’t go over so well:

1. Pepsi – Live For Now

This commercial starring Kendall Jenner was almost fully received negatively, and was pulled by the company only one day after its distribution. It essentially communicated that having a Pepsi can fix deep-rooted societal issues — yikes. Pepsi soon issued an apology and stated that they clearly “missed the mark”… and we agree.

2.  L’Oréal Elvive Commercial with Winona Ryder

In this commercial, L’Oréal compared damaged hair to Winona Ryder’s career. It aired during the Golden Globes, essentially leveraging the momentum of the #meetoo and #timesup movements. For the most part of the commercial, it is unclear what is being advertised, until Winona Ryder goes on stage with the lines: “Everyone loves a comeback” and “Damaged hair deserves one too”.

3. Stacy’s Pita Chips Women’s History Month Campaign

For Women’s History Month 2017, Stacy’s created bags inspired by signs from women’s rallies. Not only that, the limited-edition Women’s History Month bags raised another $200,000 to fund United Way Worldwide microgrants for female entrepreneurs so that they can grow their food business. Now here’s a true winner!

Whether this is a good or a bad marketing strategy is debatable. One may make the argument that cause marketing is a lazy way to attract attention and a very obvious PR scheme. However, if executed well, it can go a long way — assuming the message aligns with a campaign organically. And that’s hard to do.

What’s your opinion on companies that stray from product-centric messaging in an attempt to tackle something bigger?

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