Birds are the ultimate soul (and body) surfers, quite literally. They drop in and ride in the wake of the one ahead, drafting off that energy to improve the efficiency of the group. Would that I could harness this aerodynamic effect to follow Kelly Slater through Endless Summers. Alas. But, I do use such "Slipstreams" metaphorically, in helping form creative collaborations that harness the resources of different sectors of society to address common concerns.
Campaigns like Girl Up point civil society, the United Nations Foundation, and a new wave of Philanthro-Teens towards a shared mission of improving the lives of the world's hardest to reach adolescent girls. (RED) is another successful example. We founded (RED) with the notion that iconic brands and regular shoppers could join with public heath professionals, governments, and multi-lateral institutions, to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. Both of these efforts were designed to fuel dynamic momentum by leveraging novel assets like consumer power and the rising activism of the youth generation to drive exponential impact. It's working, but there's much more to be done.
As a society, we have to draw upon the resources that we have to save the ones we need. In the past few decades, many businesses have been coming around to this realization by improving their own policies and practices, as well as through partnerships with non-profits and charities. Cause Marketing, as a sector, is soaring. An IEG Sponsorship Report predicts that corporate spending on cause marketing will have risen over 6 percent to $1.6 billion in 2010.
Though many trace the roots of cause marketing back to the early 1970s, and credit American Express with coining the phrase in the 1980s, it's intriguing to think that perhaps the most visible early use of celebrities, branded quips, and social purpose was by the United States Government during WWI. A recent Common Sense NMS blog suggests that Liberty Bonds may have paved the way for the millions of cause-connected products offered for sale today.
Whatever the origin of cause marketing, what matters today is the road ahead. It's time for another turn of the evolutionary wheel - it's time to drive more innovation into the who, how, when, where, and what of cause-connected products and the marketing behind them. The winds of change are blowing. If you're curious, help build the next wave at FromGoodForGood and Like us on Facebook.
It's all Good.
Follow Tamsin Smith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@slipstreamer