Cause marketing: authenticity rules

March 24, 2011

Involved consumers trigger CPG donations to hunger relief and community improvement programs.

Donation levels reflect a diminished capacity to give in this economy, while failing to show the magnitude of people’s widespread willingness to ease one another’s struggles.  

In 2009, the latest full year for which figures are available, the estimated total charitable contributions from American individuals, corporations and foundations fell 3.6% to $303.75 billion, reports the Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. 

Some CPG companies are trying to fill this giving gap and boost their own profiles and performance in the process. They’ve designed programs to help people trigger donations not out of their own pockets in various ways; in the end, people feel involved and the needy get help. This can benefit CPG brands and stores only when the public perceives causes to be authentic beyond doubt, says The Lempert Report. 

The Pepsi Refresh Project granted more than $20 million in 2010 to community-based programs voted on by the public in six categories - health, arts & culture, food & shelter, the planet, neighborhoods and education. In 2011, the program continues to award up to $1.215 million each month on arts & music, education and communities. Pepsi Refresh has become a talking point for PepsiCo when the company addresses Wall Street.

Hunger relief is the theme behind separate efforts of ConAgra Foods, Kellogg and Kraft Foods:

  • The Child Hunger Ends Here campaign between ConAgra Foods and Feeding America has generated donations of more than 250 million pounds of food since 1993. Over the next few months, consumers who buy select brands from this manufacturer and enter a package code online at, trigger a ConAgra Foods donation of a meal to Feeding America, up to 2.5 million in this period. Separately, people can donate $10 on their mobile phones.
  • In Kellogg’s Share Your Breakfast campaign, each time consumers send in a photo or description of their breakfast, the company donates to Action for Healthy Kids. The goal is to help share one million breakfasts by the start of the 2011-2012 school year.
  • Kraft Foods is in its second year of its Huddle to Fight Hunger campaign with Feeding America, with which it has partnered for 25 years. The 2010 HTFH campaign, which culminated in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in January, totaled donations of more than 20 million meals. The company donated meals to local food banks when people redeemed a Kraft HTFH coupon, signed up at, or sent a special text message.