Cause marketing has long been another tool in the work belt of advertising and public relations professionals. Everything from Breast Cancer Awareness to Crone’s Disease has been co-opted and utilized as a marketing ploy to get consumers to buy, switch, or upgrade, just to build a brand.
So much helping-hands-to-help-me is prevalent that there is more than a serious risk that we have desensitized consumers to helping a good cause for good, just because.
There is another way. Perhaps a brand could make a real impact by embracing the cause in ’cause marketing’ and letting the marketing follow. I know it is revolutionary and contrary to modern marketing concepts, but think about it. You gotta zag when the others are zigging.
Imagine a company-corporation-business just doing the right thing. Helping for the sake of providing help; doing good works. And when the consumer tries to look behind the curtain for the motive? “Just doing good here.”. Then you let your brand journalists loose to report on it for you. But no gimmicks; no ‘a portion of every sale up to a preset amount we have already budgeted and paid goes to the cause’; no ‘just buy our specially tagged-colored-packaged item at an inflated price and show your friends you cared enough about a cause to buy our product instead of helping the cause directly on your own’. Nope. None of that. Give it up. Stop being so convoluted.
OK, I’ll go… In my part of the world there is an historic piece of architecture –the Kirkbride Building–what had been a main building at the closed Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Parsippany, NJ.
Designed a few years after the Civil War by Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan, it is a French Renaissance/Second Empire style building. In the 1800s, Dr. Kirkbride for whom it was named, was seeking to create benevolent settings for patients. Every window in the Sloan design had a view of the surrounding pastoral countryside.
Sloan was no one-hit wonder. He also designed the North Carolina Executive Mansion, the official residence of the Governor of North Carolina and family, and the The Asa Packer Mansion, home of railroad magnate and founder of Lehigh University.
Everything old is new again must be demolished
The 678,000-square-foot Kirkbride Building, constructed in 1876 and closed in 2008 when a new, modern hospital opened nearby is slated for demolition by the state (Governor Christie). Meanwhile Preserve Greystone (preservegreystone.org) — made up of preservationists, historians, environmentalists and interested local residents– is trying to salvage it; not as an empty monument. They are working to put it in the hands of people who could create something out of it– new uses for the building instead of demolition of a storied piece of the state’s history
Richard Upjohn, a Sloan contemporary and then president of the Institute of Architects mourned back in the 1800s that so few early colonial buildings remained and that if the Institute should be able by its influence to preserve these kind of “interesting fabrics from demolition, it will be doing a good work.”
On the destruction of a great building back in the 1870s, Sloan wrote: “Architecture and the art of building have not arrived at so much perfection in America that the loss of such an example can be afforded…”
Preserve Greystone (preservegreystone.org) is dedicated to protecting the open space and historic buildings on the former Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital property in Morris County, NJ. Please consider signing the petition on their website to keep it in our midst. You’ll be doing good.