Where's the Cause?

Can you find the cause in this picture? Look hard – it’s in there somewhere, hidden among price-per-gallon signs, no smoking instructions and hot dog ads…

In case you didn’t find it, here’s the answer: It’s Citgo’s Fueling Good, a program through which Citgo gives away a year's supply of fuel and a case of motor oil to a deserving nonprofit, helping them by paying for transportation to deliver their mission (a recent winner was a Maine animal shelter).   

This advertisement for the program, viewed in context of real-life gas pump clutter, highlights a critical challenge for cause marketing that has nothing to do with cause and everything to do with marketing: A need to focus on fundamentals to break through myriad commercial messages that target us every day.

In this example, the drama in the Fueling Good advertising – created here by prominent positioning of the iconic, typographically bold one-way sign – is misdirected. It doesn’t focus on the program’s core benefit of doing good in local communities. Smaller print invites the reader to learn more by going to a website, but how many people would read – let alone act – on that?  

We live in an era of high expectations, with over 90 percent of Americans expecting companies to tell them directly how they are changing the world via improved products, services and operations. The lesson is simple: Act and communicate. No matter how bold or world-changing the efforts you are making, if you aren’t communicating them in a clear, compelling way, no one will know. Even worse for your brand, people might think you aren’t doing anything.  


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