Can Cause Marketing Do Good? If Briefed Right, Yes.

October 14, 2019

Emily Kane Miller

Emily Kane Miller is the founder and CEO of Ethos Giving. Equal parts head and heart, Emily has spent her career working for social change. With deep experience in government, advocacy, nonprofit, corporate, and philanthropic work, Emily has a unique ability to envision and steward philanthropic contributions that maximize benefit and value for all.

Previously, she served as Vice President of Philanthropy & Community Affairs at The Wonderful Company. Emily led the organization’s award-winning philanthropic efforts, which ranged from paradigm-changing, place-based work, to branded community giving programs, to transformative institutional contributions.

Prior to her tenure at Wonderful, Emily served in a variety of capacities in California and Washington, D.C. for both government and advocacy groups. She holds a BA from the University of California Los Angeles, and a JD from the University of Arizona School of Law. Emily lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two children.

Today, 70% of U.S. consumers believe that companies have a responsibility to society and are voting with their wallets to prove it. 

This past June, The 3% Movement held a convening in Washington DC for some of the country’s top marketing folks to discuss how brands can lead with purpose. As someone who works every day to help businesses to do good better, I was delighted to attend as a featured speaker and share my thoughts. 

After the panel, my conversations with attendees who are motivated to use the tool of marketing to give back excited me. But also made me think. In this new era, what does “doing good” actually mean for businesses and brands?

For many, cause marketing is the answer – a business practice that aims to increase profitability while bettering society. The creative briefs are clear: This ad is meant to sell product and make the world a better place. 3…2...1…Go.  With powerful platforms and talented marketing teams, cause marketing has created hundreds of click-worthy campaigns that pull at our heartstrings.

Some companies’ values are simply baked into their DNA, and when you’re buying from these businesses -- whether it’s socks, a backpack, or lunch – it’s clear that there is an actual benefit to society.  

For others, while tremendous thought may be put into the splashy campaign, the actual social impact work is very thin, or – even worse – nonexistent. Even those within the advertising industry are calling for better. 

While cause marketing starts a conversation, there are things that conversations alone cannot accomplish. Truly giving back isn’t a marketing endeavor. It’s a moral one, requiring forethought, intention, and ethos. A company must look within and identify what making a meaningful difference means for them. 

Last June, it was clear the 3% community wants to create more societal value with their cause marketing activations. Wanting to help them accomplish this goal, I created the “Good Brief” – the open-sourced, deeper, values-driven brief that comes before the creative brief. Dig in. Find your purpose. Discover how your brand can uniquely affect change. The rest will follow. 

Clicks don’t change lives. Handwringing doesn’t move the needle. Let’s get to work.

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