David Milliken's Brand Marketing Blog

Cause Marketing, or Marketing with a Cause

Posted in Cause marketing, Planning by dlmilli on July 26, 2010

I had an incredible lunch today. And it was not about the food (which was good), it was because the company was inspiring. Lunch was with Janelle Hail, CEO and Founder of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Neal, her husband and Co-Founder, and sons Brent (VP of Operations) and Kevin (Chief Operating Officer).

My brand is collaborating with a major restaurant reservations website this October to raise funds for the NBCF. Today’s meeting was partially a mutual thank you, but also the opportunity to meet the personalities behind each organization and determine how to grow the relationship. I had similar meetings when I teamed with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital while working on Coors Light (I am proud to have played a role in raising over $1 million in the battle against pediatric diseases).

Most brands, mine included, pick their charities wisely. Our target consumer is 25-50 year old females – the demographic most concerned with the tragedies of breast cancer. So it is understandable that consumers can feel brands are only “doing good” for themselves.

But this meeting was an extraordinary reminder that, yes, working with a charity can build a brand AND be an authentic relationship. While her work has offered many noteworthy experiences, Janelle did not seek the position of leading a major charity. Her journey started with the misfortune of being diagnosed with breast cancer as a 34 year-old mother. And “success” was not handed to her, as a 30 year survivor, she has worked hard out of passion for a cause, not a paycheck or the next promotion or fame.

As we were saying our goodbyes, Neal thanked us for lunch and our donation, saying “what you do saves lives everyday”. He meant those kind words, and they served as a reminder that a brand can do good for itself and a cause at the same time. But of course, Janelle, Neal, and everyone at the NBCF are the ones who are saving lives everyday. We are just fortunate enough to have the marketing resources to assist their heroic efforts.

Janelle Hail was "lucky" enough to meet Hugh Grant

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He Who Fails to Plan, Plans to Fail — Proverb

Posted in Planning by dlmilli on July 23, 2010

Summer in consumer packaged goods means beaches and BBQs. It also means long hours planning for the following year.

Late last month I gave a three hour presentation to our sales organization. The topic was our entire 2011 promotional calendar. The presentation included 2009 and year-to-date 2010 results and learnings, a review of the competitive and macroeconomic environment, 2011 brand objectives and strategies, and every single promotional activity we have planned for next year, from January 1 through New Year’s Eve – still 18 months away! (It went extremely well.) If applicable to my brand, this presentation would have included product changes or innovations, new partnerships, and other brand news. This step is very similar to planning processes I have experienced at different companies.

Last week I drafted budgets and sales volumes for each US sales region. Regions will review this information and provide their feedback shortly. As Senior Brand Manager, I will submit the final recommendation to senior management. In my experience at other companies, this step is typically completed via marketing and sales collaboration, or simply handed down by senior management. Each approach has their pros and cons.

Through an iterative process, our entire brand plan, including all brand activities and a profit and loss statement, will be rolled into a corporate plan. While planning, I will work with just about every department in the company, as well as several outside suppliers and agencies. The process will not be complete until early January – just in time to begin the planning anew.

So here’s to a great summer, and great planning.

David Milliken working at the winery on David Milliken's Brand Marketing Blog

Me at "the office"