By Mark Addicks, SVP, CMO, General Mills
As we begin the holiday shopping season in the U.S., brand philanthropy or “cause marketing” is ever present in our lives — on stores shelves, airwaves, TV shows, Facebook and beyond. Chances are, today you’ve either purchased something associated with a cause or you’ve seen a cause-connected campaign promoted.
Although brand philanthropy as a marketing tool is no longer unique, effective marketers are evolving their approach to the practice to increase the relevancy and impact of their programs on the causes and brands they support.
General Mills traces its cause marketing roots back to Betty Crocker’s relationship with homemakers in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, according to Mark Addicks, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at General Mills. Betty Crocker’s radio show offered not only practical baking help to radio listeners, but sought to boost the morale of homemakers through difficult eras of American history.
By the mid-30s, two of Betty Crocker’s weekly radio broadcasts focused on recipes and menus designed for families on relief and the General Mills Home Services Department created a free brochure with tips for preparing delicious food on Depression–era wages and recipes that helped homemakers get the most of relief staples.
In the following video blog, Addicks shares his perspective on how brand philanthropy has evolved since General Mills launched Box Tops for Education more than 10 years ago and discusses how brands can listen to the consumer to boost the relevancy and effectiveness of their programs.