I was surprised and excited to receive an email recently from a younger cousin of mine that included the following:
“I didn’t know if you could tell me a little about your job, because I’m looking into graphic design, specifically “cause marketing” and am curious about what you do and how you got your current position.”
A simple enough question, but I just found the question itself – and choice of words – so dang interesting! Our jobs page on Ad Council.org consistently ranks as one of our top pages. It’s a tough economy, and there are a lot of job seekers out there, but it seems that more and more of them are expressing a desire for the work they do to be in pursuit of a good cause.
Below was my response:
What can I tell you about my job? The Ad Council’s most basic function is to connect non-profits and government agencies who are working to address major social issues – high school dropout rates, teen dating violence, fatherhood involvement, etc… – with the nation’s top ad agencies who then volunteer their services to create comprehensive, fully integrated ad campaigns to inspire action around those issues. And then we get the media to donate ad space to run those campaigns. That’s it in a nutshell. But there is A LOT going on to make all of that happen, and to make those campaigns successful.
As far as my particular role, I manage various interactive elements of campaigns. This may be the development of a new website, a mobile app, an online contest, you name it. All in an effort to extend the reach and increase the impact of any given campaign.
How did I get here? I meandered. I dabbled with going into law, I was a personal trainer, I got some non-profit experience under my belt, and then I somehow found myself at an interactive agency. I parlayed that experience into my current job, in which the variety of my past work experience and my Journalism degree have also come in pretty handy.
What I’m so intrigued by is your particular interest in “cause marketing.” To be honest, I don’t think I had even heard this term a year ago, even though I guess it’s what the Ad Council has been doing for going on 70 years now.
I’m curious what its official definition is…
Interesting… all of the definitions that I’m finding online are in regard to for-profit promotional strategies in which a company’s sales are linked to a charity or other public cause. That’s not how we use the term around here. Are we using it incorrectly?
We tend to use “cause marketing” and “social marketing” interchangeably, both referring to the use of commercial marketing techniques for the purpose of influencing a target audience to change their behavior for the benefit of the social good. Problem is that with the rise of social media, “social marketing” has become a confusing term. Does it mean what I just said? Or does it refer to a marketing strategy specific to social media? Who knows? I guess it depends on the context.
Anywho… the whole point is that your inquiry is completely in line with what they’re saying about your generation. Apparently cause marketing resonates extremely well with millennials (and moms); it’s this whole interesting convergence of a generation’s progressive leanings within a capitalist society.
I don’t envy anyone hitting the job market right now, but I suppose the good news is that “cause marketing” is a bright and shiny new arena. You could certainly try taking a direct route to a non-profit or one of the increasing number of marketing and communications firms that specialize in working with non-profits, but I think that even if you just pursue a path of marketing or advertising (with no qualifiers), then you stand a pretty good chance of finding yourself working toward a good cause.