Thinking Beyond The Annual Holiday Party: A Conversation On Cause Marketing With Casey Aitken

Discover the components of a strong corporate cause marketing campaign with Casey Aitken, a creative director at an award-winning advertising agency.

Casey Aitken

Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson INSIDE

Who He Is:

Casey Aitken is an expert in employer branding and recruitment advertising. He has worked with some of the biggest brands to develop content strategy, internal and external messaging, brand discovery, and multi-platform campaigns. With a background in copywriting at an agency and at The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Casey has over 10 years of experience delivering award-winning creative.

Q: How can a successful cause marketing campaign build or advance a company’s brand?

A: Cause marketing campaigns can drive a lot of attention and are a great way to galvanize your customers and communities around your brand. Corporate philanthropy or community service related activities are largely seen as standard practice today, with even maligned industries attempting to rebuild their image by attaching their value to a particular cause. Cause marketing can get lumped in with people who are only looking for positive public relations, but when done well, it can be a powerhouse for a brand.

Q: What are some common missteps companies take in cause marketing?

A: With individual audiences being more and more nuanced, it’s about making your message relatable to an everyday experience. Some questions that any cause-based marketing effort should ask include:

  • Is the desired audience response tangible?
  • Is the message relevant to the target audience?
  • Are we effectively and faithfully communicating the risk and reward of doing nothing or something?

I think the biggest faux pas in cause-based marketing would be inaccuracies. Consumers are incredibly savvy, and misstatements or partial truths are often discovered fairly quickly. This can erode public confidence in not only the company delivering the message but also the cause itself. [Read up on cause marketing regulations so you don’t make a misstep.]

Q: Share with us a “golden rule” you have when executing a campaign.

A: What is the underlying human truth that you’re attempting to get across? It’s not enough to simply make people feel danger or excitement. Make it feel real to their emotions and experiences.

Q: People often think of cause marketing as a way to engage customers or job candidates. Tell us how cause marketing can engage current employees, too.

A: Employee-centric cause marketing is a real opportunity to use people’s individual strengths to contribute to the overall success. It also can make management feel more approachable to employees in organizations with a tremendous amount of stratification.

Everyone wants to believe in something beyond what they do for a living.

The energy and enthusiasm of a group of people united behind a cause can be a natural rallying point to live your company’s mission. This also gives people in different business functions a chance to build connections beyond the annual holiday party. [Learn more about GlobalGiving’s corporate cause marketing solutions.]

Q: What are some ways you can show authenticity in your cause marketing efforts?

A: Avoid portraying people as long-suffering martyrs. Instead depict people who are living relatable lives. If your cause is more broad scope (e.g., global warming) presenting reasonable solutions while tying the impact to individual people’s stories is a way of giving consumers both a broad view with a relatable perspective.

Q: Are you seeing trends in cause marketing aimed at younger millennials and Generation Z?

A: There is so much cause-based marketing. People are even turning their birthdays into an opportunity to raise funds for their favorite cause. The diversification of tactics and channels can create a sustained message that resonates with the audience in a way that feels powerful. For example, think about building a 360 degree environment with multiple delivery channels such as a documentary, Instagram campaign, and experiential event.

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Featured Photo: Help An Indian Orphanage This Christmas by The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission

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