I got an email announcement today from United about their ongoing support of the American Cancer Society (ACS).  It appears United is doing a series of bears to sell to raise money for ACS.  This year’s bear is called Maye I Hugyou.  As a nonparent, I once again admit I don’t get the teddy bear attraction but clearly it is a promotion that is working for both United and ACS.  I do like that it was not a one time partnership but is something longer term.

The email says, “United Airlines and the American Cancer Society are again teaming up and inviting you to bring smiles to children undergoing cancer treatment. For a contribution of $50 or 7,500 Mileage Plus miles to the American Cancer Society, you can help comfort kids undergoing treatment. United will arrange for a huggable, limited-edition 18-inch Gund teddy bear, Maye I. HugyouSM (the adorable blue-eyed sister of last year’s teddy bear Kenny Hugyou), to be sent to a child undergoing cancer treatment.

Funds and Mileage Plus miles raised will support the American Cancer Society’s efforts to save lives from cancer by investing in research to discover cancer’s causes and cures, educating and empowering people to avoid the disease or find it early, helping people facing cancer overcome obstacles in their personal cancer fight, and fighting for laws to keep our communities healthy and cancer free.”

So if you are in need of a cute teddy bear, check this out.  It is for a great cause.

When I went to the American Cancer Society website, I did a search for “United Airlines” but did not come up with any mention of the 2008 teddy bear promotion.  What I did find was an article written about the success of last year’s Kenny Hugyou.  “Thanks for your support of the Kenny Hugyou campaign…Working with you and our campaign partner, United Airlines, we achieved exciting results:

  • More than 10,000 kids with cancer received a huggable teddy bear over the Valentine’s Day weekend.
  • More than 40 million frequent flyer miles and $250,000 in cash donations went to the American Cancer Society’s Angel Flight program, which provides free air travel for patients who receive cancer treatments far from home.”

Great results!  Hopefully they will get the same or better response this year!

Here are some food for thought items as you consider your company’s support of your favorite causes. 

  1. Consider the size of the nonprofit you are interested in supporting and how that relates to the size of your company.  In this case, both United and ACS are BIG players but ACS gets a lot of other big company support, as well.  So, on the ACS website, even United’s efforts with the teddy bears are not featured while the promotion is going on to get more participation and recognition.  If you are a small company, getting visibility for your good works with a huge nonprofit organization like ACS from that nonprofit will be even more difficult.  It’ll be up to whatever you do to get the word out and let your own supporters/customers know about it.
  2. You can make it part of the agreement that the nonprofit needs to offer a link to your company’s website for whatever the promotion is, or have them issue a press release about it which gets posted on both your websites.  Be sure to negotiate such things on the front end to avoid any gaps in expectations.
  3. Think about how you can develop a longer term relationship with a cause or nonprofit to show your true to commitment to it.  And…see if there are ways that each year you can deepen your involvement to whatever the next step is, to get even more benefit for the cause and for your company.
  4. United used the same language on their website page as in their email blast.  This does not have to be tough or seriously time consuming to get the word out.

Good luck!  And, call me if you need help with designing an effective cause marketing promotion.