Cause-Related Marketing: Red Nose Returns

By Gray, Robert | Marketing, March 9, 2005 | Go to article overview

Cause-Related Marketing: Red Nose Returns


Gray, Robert, Marketing


The 10th Red Nose Day takes place this week and both Comic Relief and its commercial partners are celebrating its continued success, writes Robert Gray.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Comic Relief, the charity responsible for the biennial Red Nose Day - one of the most high-profile fundraising exercises in the UK. Since its inception, the charity has raised more than pounds 337m, of which pounds 61m was raised in 2003. The funds have been distributed to more than 6000 projects in the UK and Africa.

The charity has brought charitable aid to millions of people through its fundraising initiatives. However, for the raft of commercial partners attached to Comic Relief, it is crucial that the relationship brings business benefits as well as charitable donations.

Cynics may claim that the only thing many cause-related marketing initiatives achieve is a PR slant showing a business is 'doing the right thing', rather than any discernible benefit to the bottom line. This is something the marketing team behind Comic Relief and the 24 brand partners attached to this year's fundraising drive are quick to deny.

'Undoubtedly there is a public relations angle to our commercial partnerships as Comic Relief is a high-profile event,' says Comic Relief corporate fundraising manager Terry Mills. 'However, to say that this is all a brand can glean from being associated with the charity is vastly underselling the initiatives and their impact on bottom-line sales. We have collated data-driven case studies over the years that show where Comic Relief benefits a brand on both levels, if done in the right way.'

The 10th Red Nose Day, which takes place this Friday, is the focal point of Comic Relief's fundraising and will feature the usual night of dedicated programming on the BBC, starring a glittering array of celebrities. This year's theme is Big Hair & Beyond, which is encouraging people to change the way they look for one day to help raise money for charity.

This year Comic Relief has also used drama for the first time to drive home a message about an important cause. On 24 February, BBC One broadcast Dad, starring Richard Briers and Kevin Whately, which tackled the issue of the abuse of elderly people. 'Innovation is a big challenge each Red Nose Day,' says Comic Relief marketing director Michele Settle. 'It is a national institution, but we have to make sure it is fresh.'

Fresh approach

Maintaining this freshness is also a vital issue for the charity's commercial partners. New partners often come with new ideas, while for those of longer standing the challenge is to find ways to make sure the relationship does not become stale.

This constant need for innovation is reflected in this year's marketing activity.

Persil, which is supporting Red Nose Day for the fourth consecutive time, has created special Comic Relief packs, being sold only in Sainsbury's, which is also a commercial partner of the charity. The packs contain red face-painting crayons and T-shirt pens to help the nation 'Get Reddy' for Red Nose Day and for each one sold, Persil will donate 40p to the charity.

Walkers Snacks, which in previous years has produced a baked-beans flavour for Red Nose Day, has launched Crisp and Snack Swap limited editions.

Standard flavours have been combined to create Cheese & Bacon Quavers, and Walkers Cheese & Pickle, Bacon & Ketchup and Barbeque Chicken crisps.

One pence from every standard pack, 6p from every six-pack and 10p from every 10-pack sold will be donated to Comic Relief.

A pounds 1.5m TV advertising campaign, which was launched on 17 February, is supporting the promotion.

Having signed up as the official hair partner of Red Nose Day 2005 for the second time, Wella has designed a red hairspray that will be available at its salons and stores nationwide. Priced pounds 1.99, 50p from each can sold goes straight to Comic Relief. …

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