The Hunger Games are…Real?

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, opened on November 22, 2013 as a sequel to the Hunger Games. What started as a series of books by Suzanne Collins has been turned into a hit soon-to-be trilogy. Catching Fire made an estimated $158,074,286.00 on its opening night in the United States alone, according to IMDB. The blockbuster film partnered with many companies, including Subway and Feeding America. This trio has combined forces to also include Twitter in an effort to end hunger.

As a result of Subway and Catching Fire being partners, Subway is currently using the tributes of the Games to encourage people to eat in the restaurant. This type of celebrity endorsement brings in people who might not normally eat there. “Oh, if Peeta eats Subway, I should too!” Granted, this behavior might come more from children but they, in turn, will ask their parents to take them to Subway. I’ve seen this time and time again with my younger siblings. This also works for the older crowd, however, because a partnership of this nature often includes promotional items or sales/deals that someone may anticipate being offered. Subway has transformed their marketing strategies and dining areas, with concepts like “Where Victors Eat” and “Win your own Victory Tour,” with the latter being a sweepstakes in conjunction with their collectible Catching Fire drink cups.r_kat1

In the third and final facet of this trio of partners, Feeding America has jumped in and put their cause directly in the middle. Subway has placed cardboard cutouts of tributes Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick in the dining areas of Subways. A patron, after eating “What Victors Eat,” can take a photo with the cutouts and post it to the Subway Twitter, with the hashtag of #SUBtractHunger. Each time a hashtag is used, it is counted towards the 1,000,000 meals that Subway will buy for Feeding America. In the fine print, it says that Subway will donate up to $125,000, as each dollar makes about nine meals. However, this linkage will only exist until 11:59pm on December 15, 2013. The meals will be provided from Feeding America through local food banks in areas in need.

This celebrity endorsement effectively ties in cause marketing in order to create an environment in which Subway patrons are encouraged to aid Feeding America. Though there is no mention of patrons being able to donate money directly to Feeding America via Subway and Catching Fire, the Feeding America website has a donation area, as well as a hyperlink to a Hunger Games site, where a large “Ignite the Fight Against Hunger” plea is proudly displayed under a Mockingjay and above a photo of the tributes stoically ready to win the real-world Hunger Games. The number of families that go hungry over the holidays is continuously growing. With Feeding America, Subway, and the Hunger Games movie series teaming up to feed families, alongside many other organizations attempting to end hunger, do you think the odds are in are their favor?

-Hilary Hall

Towels For Troops: Supporting Our Heroes

I cannot speak for others, but one of the most quickly used products in my household is paper towels. Often times, it seems that they have to be bought on a weekly basis. Thankfully, Brawny, the paper towel company, recognized the necessity that paper towels have become and leveraged their product to help out a worthy cause.

Last year, Brawny partnered with the Wounded Warriors Project to launch an “Inner Strength” campaign. For two years, Brawny has prided itself on standing strong alongside the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) as a means of honoring injured service members. In 2012 alone, Brawny raised more than $500,000 for the WWP.


For those of you who are unaware of the Wounded Warriors Project, it is a form of charitable support for members of the armed forces who were injured in the line of duty. Donations made to WWP help thousands of wounded warriors and their families as they return home from current conflicts.

With great success, Brawny decided to continue this cause marketing initiative committing to raise $600,000 this year. As a means of accomplishing this goal, Brawny has promised to make a direct donation of $250,000 to benefit the WWP. They have also announced their pledge to donate an additional $1, up to $350,000 for every individual who: shares a “Thank You” note on the Brawny Facebook page, “likes” Brawny paper towels on Facebook, or texts THANKS to 272969.

Large goals like this are often hard to achieve, but worth it when it comes to a good cause. In the study of rhetorical theory, Greek philosopher, Aristotle teaches the three modes of persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos. In this example, Brawny is able to use cause marketing to appeal to pathos or the emotion of the audience, but this tactic is commonly used in cause marketing. Pathos is the strongest mode of persuasion; making it a more frequently used appeal.

Personally, when I hear the word “persuasion” I immediately make the connection to an interchangeable and more frequently used term…Influences. Persuasion is a process directed towards changing or influencing people’s beliefs, attitudes, and intentions. Individuals are persuaded each and every day. Persuasion is a critical and underlying goal of all marketing and advertising efforts.

The “Inner Strength” campaign is an effective form of cause marketing conducted by Brawny and the WWP. This particular campaign does an efficient job of persuading customers purchasing decisions by appealing to the audiences’ emotions. Customers are much more inclined to buy a product if they know that it is for a good cause.  It is that simple.

In this case, customers are buying Brawny products because it is to their understanding that a percentage of the proceeds go to the WWP. This is because these consumers feel a sense of sympathy for wounded soldiers. This is a form of persuasion at its finest. Ultimately, cause marketing has proven to pay off in this scenario seeing how Brawny sales are through the roof and donations made to the WWP are at an all-time high

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Caitlin Ford, Parker Farfour, Alex Corrigan, Kaitlyn Batson

Do the (RED) Thing

One of the most successful examples of cause marketing is the Product Red campaign that was launched in 2006. This was when the Red foundation paired up with recognizable brands such as Starbucks, Gap, Coke and Apple to raise money for HIV/AIDS. Since its launch, the organization has raised $215 million. This money goes straight to The Global Fund, who invests 100% of the earnings to HIV/AIDS programs in Africa. This marketing seems to be benefiting both parties because while the nonprofit is raising money and visibility, the for-profit is gaining customers who support the cause. BRSL_Lockup_October2013

The reason cause marketing is so popular is because it gives consumers an extrinsic and intrinsic reward  for their purchases. The extrinsic motivation to buy the product is the product itself. While the intrinsic motivation is to walk away knowing that you just donated money to a good cause. In the book Cognitive Surplus, Clay Shirky describes how times are changing and people are now doing things just because they want to, not because they are getting rewarded. I agree with him and believe that people are still going to buy products that they already wanted or needed before they found out it was connected to an organization. If someone wants Starbucks, they are going to get it whether or not it is on the day that the company is donating to the Red foundation.

What do you think? Have you ever gone out of your way to buy a certain product, because you knew a percentage of your purchase was going to go to a good cause? Would you buy a Red iPod, even though you wanted the green one? Take a minute and think about if you are more driven by intrinsic or extrinsic motives.

-Ashley Creps

Marketing for a Cause: One Pair of Shoes at a Time

Whether or not you know what cause marketing is, there is a good chance that you have participated in it in one way or another.  Since cause marketing is the collaboration of a company with a specific organization or cause, which is something that many brands participate in, we have decided to focus on one particular well known company that uses this tactic. The specific brand that many people, maybe even you, have supported through cause marketing is TOMS.  TOMS is a shoe company that provides a pair of shoes to a child in need around the world every time that a pair is purchased.


The idea of TOMS shoes came about when founder, Blake Mycoskie, visited Argentina and discovered children within the village were walking around barefoot. Determined to help, Mycoskie created the campaign “One for One,” that would “match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need.” The company has had outstanding success, becoming nationally appraised and known for their good deeds. According to their website, TOMS has given 10 million pairs of shoes spanning over 60 countries. A motivating factor behind the TOMS brand is their demonstration of corporate responsibility through their desire to help others in need.

The Theory of Reasoned Action makes a good connection with TOMS and cause marketing because it states that attitude drives intention which overall drives the desired behavior. The Theory of Reasoned Action also states that, “If the outcome seems beneficial to the individual, he or she may then intend to or actually participate in a particular behavior.” TOMS’ mission drives consumers to have a positive attitude towards the brand and an inclination to purchase their products because the outcome is helping children in need.  Peer groups, friends, family, role models, and celebrities also play an active role in influencing consumers to participate in a desired behavior. Consumers who have a positive attitude about a celebrity that advocates TOMS may in turn have a positive attitude about TOMS, which will increase their intention and actual behavior of purchasing their products.
What are some other instances where you have seen companies and brands use cause marketing to sell their products?  Do you think people’s motivation to purchase TOMS shoes is more for the fashion statement and to look like a good person or to genuinely donate?

-Aaron Love, Kara Zimmerman, Rachel Clay, Rebecca Hobbs

A Soda With A Cause

Are you shopping for a cause this holiday season?

They don’t call it the giving season for nothing. Around the holidays you see and hear it everywhere “Would you like to donate a dollar to ______ to help sick children today? It only takes a $5 donation to _______! Or, shop here! We’re a good organization! We support ________. ” That _____ has a name: cause marketing.

According to The Nonprofit Times, cause marketing, in a broad sense, is when  “a nonprofit and for profit corporation partner together with the purpose of advancing the mission-related work of the nonprofit, and the marketing goals of the corporation.” We regularly see this through traditional cause-related marketing on a day-to-day basis (donation-with-purchase of a product/service), but it seems as though cause marketing during the holidays is especially pertinent.

Do you feel as though companies that don’t partake in cause marketing are more rare than those who do? This holiday season, Coca-cola is doing the opposite of advertising, while still partaking in cause-marketing. Confusing right? Well check this out.

Starting November 18th, Coca-Cola decided to cut all advertisement funds and donate the money that would be used for relief efforts in the Philippines from Typhoon Haiyan. The company still plans to partake in holiday ads soon, but the pathos link that the company is creating by helping out those devastated by the disaster is sure to boost sales. The company has raised $2.5 million for the relief already. Way to go, Coke.

So how about you? Does the pathos-oriented approach presented by cause-marketing make you more vulnerable to purchasing a product, or is it just expected now-a-days?

-Morgan Jones, Jade Lester

Tis the Season

In ancient Greece, rhetoric was a crucial skill. Today, it is still used in our everyday life: in the office, in the classroom, and in the home. As the holidays approach, big brands are beginning to rev up their inner rhetorician, persuading consumers to buy their products and to buy into the holiday season. Main stream brands have mastered the art of rhetoric, changing it from a way of speech to a way of images.

Within the past week the “top shelf” department stores in New York City opened their window displays featuring holiday themes, winter traditions, and of course, several of their top products. The stores claim that their holiday window displays are merely “gifts to the city” by sharing their excitement for the holiday season with passer-bys. I beg to differ. Yes, it is a brilliant idea to provide beautiful window displays to spread seasonal cheer. However, it is also a fantastic use of modern day rhetoric, persuading consumers to purchase the products that share the spotlight with the seasonal window displays are the perfect gift for this holiday season.


Tiffany & Co. window display

Senior direct of visual presentation at Bergdorf Goodman says that “every store has their own style.” Stores like Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s, Tiffany & Co., and Saks Fifth Avenue to name a few each have their own theme for their window displays. The stores each have a different focus on a holiday tradition while incorporating some of their top products of the season. The displays fashion innovative light displays, eye catching colors, and even live models in some windows. Through this transactional strategy of rhetoric, the stores are able to create a connection between their objects in their window displays and the consumer audience. Without the use of words, the stores are persuading consumers to purchase their products by creating the image of the perfect Christmas morning, holiday dinner party, or snowy sleigh ride.

Big brand names have taken rhetoric, which has thousands of years of history, and created it into something to work with today’s world. Do you think this new form of nonverbal rhetoric is effective?

-Tilson Hackley

Mayor Ford’s lack of Rational Communication

Recent headlines have highlighted the mayor of Canada’s largest city, Rob Ford’s, crack cocaine addiction. After coming out with the addiction he has been faced with intense pressure to resign and in more recent weeks he has admitted to buying illegal drugs while serving as mayor. Negative publicity and the lack of support from Toronto citizens have caused the Toronto city council to vote and strip Mayor Ford of most of his authority. Controversial times like this calls for an increase in communication between Mayor Ford and the citizens of Toronto. Rational communication is a goal orientated interactive theory that has three aspects:

  • The discussion is unrestrained, which means that all participants are allowed to speak freely and be able to present positions without fear of being restricted.

Citizens of Toronto want answers from the man they elected to represent their city. Questions are arising left and right, and rightfully so. The smartest PR tactic for the mayor during this time would be to answer these questions himself. Having someone speak on his behalf or even worse, not responding at all, only opens a window for unreliable sources to answer in his behalf.

  • All advocates must have a right to self-representation or the freedom to speak for themselves.

With that being said, although Mayor Ford should have professional representation to help him handle the negative slander, he is entitled to speaking freely about his addiction and the steps he is taking to recover. Mayor Ford was quoted by BBC News saying, “I’ve admitted my mistakes, I’m not going to sit here and go on and on and on.” The citizens of Toronto also have the right to speak freely about their opinion of his actions as well as the reasoning why he should still be in public office.

  • A full complement of norms and expectations must be in place under the conditions of rational discourse.

The people of Toronto have norms and expectations for the mayor they elect for their city. Mayor Ford has violated these expectations by his recent illegal activity. Not only has he infringed the expectations of the city’s people but of his staff as well. Fox News reported that he is losing 11 staffers, including Chief of Staff Earl Provost. Mayor Ford and the Toronto’s city council should be communicating on equal grounds and maintaining certain expectations from one another.


If Mayor Ford followed the rules of rational communication he would not be in the predicament he currently is faced with. Even with all the negative publicity he is currently facing, Ford is still determined to run for Prime Minister. He is hoping that the people of Toronto and the citizens of Canada will be able to overlook his past mistakes and instead, focus on his goals for the future.

-Alex Corrigan, Kaitlin Batson, Parker Farfour & Caitlin Ford