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MKTG Roundtable: The #HumansOfMKTG Pick Their Favourite Non-Profit Partnerships

MKTG Roundtable: The #HumansOfMKTG Pick Their Favourite Non-Profit Partnerships

5 Minute Read

·        The #HumansOfMKTG get together at our Roundtable to discuss their favourite brand and non-profit partnerships.

·        Our team not only provides an overview of their chosen partnerships, but their insight on the tactics used to create a successful collaboration.

·        Through our discussion, we realized a common theme: an organic non-profit partnership is one that is true to brand, creates a long-term commitment and goes beyond traditional campaigning efforts.

It’s an industry standard to have corporate social responsibility; but how do brands showcase their CSR initiatives organically to consumers? Tons of brands create short term awareness campaigns and one-off spots for social, environmental and ethical issues - but consumers are smart. They want to see what tactics brands are implementing that are making a difference that are beyond deploying a digital spot in support of a cause.

We gathered the #HumansOfMKTG to research and pick their favourite partnerships that execute a true relationship between a brand and a non-profit organization – whether it’s through a long-term commitment, helping less fortunate communities build their infrastructure or helping the non-profit create tactics that are outside-the-box.

The following Roundtable consists of the following #HumansOfMKTG: Soha, Matt S., Neal, Iain and Alex.

Soha’s Favourite: Danone & Grameen Bank


“Multinational food-product corporation Danone and non-profit microfinance organization Grameen Bank partnered to create Grameen Danone, a social business enterprise that aims to bring prosperity to rural Bangladesh. The brands partnered to create Shokti Doi, a yogurt made in, by, and for, locals. The objective was twofold- to bring nutrition to low income populations and alleviate poverty through the implementation of a community based business model. Combining Danone’s food-product expertise with Grameen Bank’s cultural and financial knowledge- the two brands took the usual temporary, donation-based CSR initiative template and elevated it to create an innovative and sustainable program.

Despite enduring cultural and financial road blocks, the initiative left many long-lasting effects in Bangladesh such as health improvement, job creation and social empowerment”

Matt’s Favourite: Stella Artois & Water.org

“Since 2015, ABI-owned beer brand, Stella Artois, has been a partner of Water.org for its “Buy a Lady a Drink” campaign, which aims to link purchases of the brand’s famous chalice to providing water for women around the world who do not have access to it. In 2018, the brand launched its first Super Bowl ad since 2011, featuring actor Matt Damon (who is a co-founder of Water.org) to inform viewers that the purchase of one limited edition chalice could provide clean water for a person in need for up to five years.

The partnership is an extremely strong one as it is exceptionally endemic to the brand – the leveraging of the iconic Stella chalice as well as a cause that is closely related to their product and brand, has helped to create a partnership with a lasting impact, rather than a limited initiative. The additional inclusion of a celebrity endorser who has a sincere tie to the cause has helped make this one of the more notable brand/non-profit partnerships that come to mind.”

Neal’s Favourite: Target & UNICEF


“With the widespread adoption of products like the FitBit and Apple Watch in recent years, wearables have definitely gone mainstream. Back in 2015, a surprising player was at the forefront of this trend: UNICEF. After a successful pilot program in schools, UNICEF partnered with Target to go national with their “Kid Power Bands” – a $40 activity tracker specifically designed for kids, available in-store and online exclusively at Target.  These were no ordinary wearables however: the more active kids get, the more therapeutic food UNICEF provides to malnourished children. By logging into the Kid Power companion app, kids accept “challenges”, compete against their friends, redeem their activity for food donations, and learn more about the issues that they’re helping to solve.

In launching Kid Power Bands, UNICEF and Target drew on a very powerful set of insights to connect with their overlapping “family” audiences:

  • In North America, families struggle to encourage activity and a healthy lifestyle in their kids
  • “Gamifying” activities helps to increase engagement in kids and establish habits

Donors want to know how their actions and donations are making a direct impact in issues they care about. UNICEF and Target have definitely struck a chord with this initiative, with Kid Power wearers having walked more than 100 billion steps and helped save the lives of 52,000 severely malnourished children already. UNICEF seems poised to take this initiative even further, having partnered with Disney for Star Wars “Force-for-Change” themed bands, and  leveraging their ambassador P!NK to introduce it in even more schools.

Step-by-step, UNICEF’s innovative brand partnerships are making a big impact on inactivity—and malnutrition”

Iain’s Favourite: Amarula Liqueur & WildlifeDirect

“Alcohol brand Amarula partnered with WildlifeDirect and launched the “Don’t Let Them Disappear” campaign to raise awareness on the world’s declining elephant population. The cause is important to Amarula not only because they are a South African company and use the elephant in its marketing, but the Marula tree which is key in the production of the liquor is also part of the elephants’ diet. Amarula launched the campaign last year, but there are certain highlights of the 2018 edition of the campaign that are worth discussing. Amarula installed life-size ice sculptures of an elephant in multiple high traffic locations throughout the world, including in Toronto’s Distillery District. The elephants were installed on August 12th, World Elephant Day, and highlighted how every 15 minutes an elephant is killed for its ivory. The elephant also had its own dedicated Twitter account providing updates on how quickly the sculpture was melting. Finally, Amarula donated $1 for the first 10,000 retweets of their post about the potential extinction of the African elephant. The installation provided an eye-catching way to convey the message of the seriousness of the cause and demonstrated an authentic link to a cause important to the brand.”

Alex’s Favourite: Vodaphone & The UN Women Unstereotype Alliance


“Vodafone released a short film addressing the issue of gender stereotypes and its work to empower women. The film ‘Raising Voices’ ran across multiple markets where Vodafone operates. Vodafone went beyond creating a spot and partnered with the UN Women UnStereotype Alliance, a global coalition of companies including Unilever and Coca-Cola aiming to eliminate harmful gender stereotypes in advertising through an on-going basis. Typically we see brands release ads around International Women’s Day to showcase their support for gender equality. By partnering with the UN Women UnStereotype Alliance, Vodafone further enhanced their ‘Raising Voices’ campaign to demonstrate their commitment to the support of women’s empowerment. This campaign provides the dual purpose of targeting women and celebrating women. The message is simple, purposeful and culturally relevant because it challenges gender bias. More importantly, we see brands jump to show their support for gender equality through short-lived ads and limited products with no authentic tie-in. This campaign appears full circle with the cause partnership and number of dedicated programs (e.g. Mum & Baby, Women First Programme) aimed to support women.”

We are seeing more and more brands commit further to support causes they attach their name to; going beyond a simple campaign and truly making a difference.

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