Campaign Trail is our look at some of the best and worst new creative efforts from the marketing world.
Cause marketing is becoming more important for brands as increased societal and political divisions cause consumers to amplify their voices on social media and more frequently vote with their wallets. Below, Marketing Dive breaks down two stand-out cases of cause marketing from the past month — one intended to save the animals, the other to put more women in office:
Lacoste's iconic alligator makes way for endangered species in limited-edition polos
The rundown: Lacoste's website is selling limited quantities of polo shirts emblazoned with an endangered species in the spot where its iconic alligator icon typically appears. Ten different species are featured and the number of shirts available for each corresponds to its remaining population in the wild. Just 30 polo shirts are available with an embroidered Vaquita logo while 450 bearing an Anegada ground iguana are being offered, with the total number of polos in the collection at 1,775.
While pricey at $185 apiece, the polos, unveiled at Paris Fashion Week, support the Save Our Species non-profit, which is focused on ensuring the long-term survival of threatened species. Consumers can also show their support for the cause by sharing videos on social media using the #LacosteSaveOurSpecies hashtag.
The results: The limited-edition polos are likely to see strong demand due to their exclusivity. For Lacoste, the effort is an opportunity to build loyalty and drive word of mouth with consumers interested in saving endangered animals, even if they aren't able to spend $185 on a shirt. By replacing its iconic logo in the Save Our Species capsule collection, Lacoste is telegraphing that it's committed to the cause of protecting endangered species in a way that's likely to come across as authentic.
Until recently, cause marketing often entailed lending a brand's name and social media channels to a nonprofit's messaging strategy. However, in a highly polarized environment where consumers are not afraid to express their passion regarding certain issues and demands that the businesses they engage with do the same, marketers are being emboldened to switch up often tightly controlled marketing assets like a logo, which typically remain unchanged for decades. When they are redesigned, it's often the result of painstaking research and announced with much fanfare.
"The logo is one of the most important elements of a brand and by temporarily changing its iconic logo, Lacoste is making a strong social statement about species extinction," Ross Kimbarovsky, founder and CEO of Crowdspring, told Marketing Dive.
The timing of the Lacoste effort is interesting as it comes close on the heels of Scotch brand Johnnie Walker similarly making over its iconic logo — in this case, a striding man — to support a cause. Earlier this week, the Diageo brand unveiled a female iteration called Jane Walker, which will appear on special-edition Black Label products. The company will donate $1 for every bottle sold up to $250,000, to organizations' supporting women's causes.
"Social activism by brands isn't new, but brands rarely both declare an allegiance to a cause and take steps to support that cause," Kimbarovsky said. "Brands that do both successfully can create zealous fans."
Beauty brand 'objectifies' women's lips to draw attention to what they're saying
The rundown: By zooming in on women’s mouths — almost to the point of discomfort — one beauty brand aims to draw attention to the voices of women, rather than the appearance of the mouths themselves. Soap & Glory kicked off its #MoreThanLips campaign with an activation at the Women's March in Los Angeles on Jan. 20, according to a press release.
A brand video debuted on a massive screen at the march as part of the effort, showcasing closeup shots of women's rouged lips. In this case, the lips become a focal point for vulnerability, passion, confidence and strength, as women shared stories about their experiences of hardship, joy, pride and what it means to be a woman today.
The footage not only made for a compelling video but also spurred the beauty brand to pony up cash for social change. For every post on social media that includes the hashtag #MoreThanLips, Soap & Glory will donate $5 to She Should Run, an organization that works to get more women running for elected office. Even if the brand doesn't meet its $20,000 goal by the end of March, when the campaign ends, it's pledged to donate the full amount anyway.
The results: Though a majority of the marchers at the Women's March were female, Soap & Glory is looking to have its campaign reach a wider audience. Influencers Nabela Noor and Color Me Courtney, among others featured in the video, shared the two-minute clip on their social media channels on Feb. 22.
While some might view the Women's March as an opportune venue to amplify such a relevant brand message, others might view co-opting the event for marketing purposes as cynical. Still, Soap & Glory earns points for pledging to donate the $20,000 regardless of whether its social media goals are met.
This isn't the first time a brand has tied together beauty and advocacy. On March 1, beauty company Elizabeth Arden launched a "March On" campaign to promote a limited-edition lipstick signed by actress Reese Witherspoon. All of the proceeds will be donated to UN Women. The company's straightforward blending of beauty products with women's empowerment contrasts with Soap & Glory's more authentic approach that will likely resonate better with consumers seeking genuine messages from brands.