Most arts organizations are pessimistic about their chances with cause marketing. They think, “Cause marketing only works when you help starving kids, abused women or neglected puppies and kitties.”
I agree that organizations with missions that support women, children and animals reap the lion’s share of cause marketing dollars. But this doesn’t exclude arts organizations from cause marketing. What does is the absence of a good business partner and a strategy that works for both partners.
That’s why arts organizations could learn a lot from a partnership between Blue Moon Brewing Company and Americans for the Arts that happened last Saturday, March 1st. In collaboration with the artist collective Johalla Projects and artist Heather Gabel, Blue Moon sponsored an interactive public art installation that raised a moon into the sky at the DUMBO Archway in Brooklyn in response to fan retweets.
With every retweet of the @BlueMoonBrewCo handle the moon rose and the brewing company donated $5 to Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the arts and arts education and home to the Public Art Network.
Arts organizations should be more optimistic about their chances for success with cause marketing. In the case of Americans for the Arts, Blue Moon sought them out for an event that resonated with its values.
“For nearly 20 years, Blue Moon Brewing Company has been all about our artistic approach to brewing and ‘Artfully Crafted’ beers. Now, Facebook and Twitter give us endless ways to engage our fans, from collaboration brews to this new interpretation of ‘community-created art,’” explains Jovina Young, Blue Moon brand manager. “On March 1, when our fans retweet us, not only will they impact our moon installation, they will help support an important cause—public art. That’s pretty cool.”
Cool and useful to Blue Moon Brewing as March 1st marked the launch of its new Twitter handle @BlueMoonBrewCo. The new handle was retweeted 800 times. Americans for the Arts can expect a check for $4,000.
There are three important lessons here for arts organizations.
First, any organization can do cause marketing. The more challenging part is recruiting a business partner. Arts organizations should stop saying “I can’t” and start building relationships with the business community.
Second, arts organizations have to make a case to businesses why they are a good fit for their organization. Blue Moon and Americans for the Arts shared an “artistic approach.”
Finally, the fact that Blue Moon approached Americans for the Arts and not vice versa highlights how every organization should be building their brand and visibility. Let the companies come to you! Having an impact isn’t enough. You have to communicate that impact if you ever want to be a magnet for corporate support.
For arts organizations that have never tried cause marketing it must seem like you have to move heaven and earth. But you don’t. Americans for the Arts just moved the moon. It’s a lot easier than you think.