When brands meet charities: our top 5 corporate partnership campaigns

Raw London's top 5 corporate partnerships: - Starbucks & Mermaids, Cadbury's & Age UK, Selfridges, Movember & Pringles

I’ve always been interested in the creative collaborations between charities and brands. In fact, they form some of my favourite campaigns ever! I especially love the unexpected partnerships – those you never expected to work, but now can’t imagine life without them.

More often than not though, the best thing about these campaigns is the results on both sides. Here are just a few:

  • Fundraising: The right partner or product can open up new doors – to both parties – and bring with it the potential to increase one off donations or long term giving via percentage sales.
  • Awareness: A brand partnership campaign can raise charities directly into public consciousness. This can then have a knock-on effect by attracting new audiences and donors for charities, to increase loyalty to brands connecting with their audiences’ social beliefs. (although disingenuous motives will have the opposite effect!)
  • Engagement: Combining big brand marketing power and charities ‘ goodwill’ collateral can be very powerful in engaging the public.

So let’s get stuck into my top 5 corporate partnership campaigns ever…

1. Starbucks and Mermaids: #whatsyourname

We’ve all experienced that moment, right? That moment when we’ve answered to something vaguely similar to our name as we wait for our order?

That’s why I love this campaign. Starbucks has taken that common experience (that they recognise happens!) and used it to provide understanding of how important it actually is to recognise, and celebrate, the names and the stories that come with them.

This campaign works on many levels, the realness in those stories for those who want to engage further with the campaign to the simple ask to raise funds by buying a limited edition cookie showing a very literal connection to Mermaids.

2. RNIB: #C4SightAdBreak

Not all partnerships have to be with consumer brands, working with channels you want to be on can often be just as effective – if not more! Now there are clever references to ‘vision brands’, such as Specsavers and Paco Rabanne, but the main point was to demonstrate the real life experiences signs of sight loss.

In Channel 4’s national eye health week, ad breaks were used to give audiences an inventive immersive experience into sight loss. Not only does this talk to the supporters and beneficiaries of the charities involved, but to new audiences, that may find some of these symptoms all too familiar.

If you can draw an audience in and leave them with a sense of genuine empathy, you build an instant connection, in short and long term.

3. Age UK & Cadburys

What happens when one of the UK’s biggest charities teams up with one of the UK’s most loved brands? The answer: a truly heartwarming and authentic partnership.

Alongside its own foundation (which turns 86 this year!), Cadbury’s has long spoken about the importance of community. So it’s no surprise that their partnership with Age UK is so successful.

The creative has been shaped and moulded over time, but it’s rooted in real stories of a community that needs wider support. First The Originals 2020 TV ad series shows inspiring and, often tongue in cheek, moments.

This year, Donate Your Words featured a limited edition set of chocolate bars. Stories from the Age UK community replaced the standard logo and content; like 79 year old Rose who once kissed Elvis Presley!

Age UK and Cadbury’s Donate Your Words campaign features limited edition sets of chocolate bars.

4. Selfridges & London Zoological Society of London: Project Ocean and Project Earth

I have to take you back to 2011 for this one. It’s an amazing example of how a partnership can transform and benefit not just the charity – but the brand too.

Long before Netflix’s Seaspiracy, Project Ocean was a campaign by Selfridges and ZSL to reduce plastic pollution and save endangered ocean life. Through their #oneless pledge, the partnership set up a movement to avoid single-use plastic, stopping the selling of endangered fish in Selfridges stores and cleaning the beaches of the Thames.

This partnership clearly inspired Selfridges. In fact, a decade later, they’re championing avoiding fast fashion with their Project Earth campaign. From selling pre-loved clothes to repairing old and renting new services, Selfridges is a brand that is listening – and changing for the better.

As part of Project Ocean, Selfridges removed all single-use plastic bottles from its stores and offices in 2015.

Selfridges now partner with other charities such as WWF, Oxfam and Centerpoint. They’re fantastic proof that partnerships can change businesses for the better – and do far more than tick the CSR box.

5. Movember and Pringles

I love the synergy behind the Movember and Pringles campaign. The shared mission is to get people talking, and ultimately help men live happier, healthier, longer lives. As a result of fans who purchased a can of Pringles, the brand donated $150,000 to the cause and continues to drive awareness with the help of their beloved mascot, Julius Pringle. 

The activations are brilliant. Julius Pringle even shaved his iconic moustache, calling men everywhere to join him in shaving their faces to kickstart important conversations. The strapline ‘Pop, Share, Chat’ encourages men to get together and talk – a meaningful connection highlighting the power of shared camaraderie.

Thinking about your next partnership campaign? We can help.

We understand the individual power of both charities and brands, and would love to help you get the most out of your partnership campaigns. Check out our work with brands, charities and humanitarian causes – or get in touch here!

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