A vital part of strategic marketing is thinking outside the box and finding refreshing ways to market your product. One way to make an impact is to connect your brand to something bigger: finding a cause that people care about and making it clear how your brand is a part of that mission can have a huge effect on viewers, especially if the issue directly affects your target audience.

When you make the decision to take a stand in your advertising, not only can you do good in the world, but you can make a difference for your brand too. A 2008 study conducted by Cone Inc. and Duke University found an increase of purchases in brands associated with a cause-related message. In a following Cone study, 85% of the participants claimed that they would view a product or brand more positively if it supported a cause they care about, and 79% stated that they would be likely to switch brands if one of the brands was affiliated with a good cause.

But the impact of cause-related messaging isn’t just supported by studies. Last spring, Procter & Gamble’s Secret deodorant debuted its Stress Test campaign from Wieden + Kennedy, a series of ads which portray our shifting culture by highlighting workplace sexism, gender bias, and the new roles millennial women are taking on in society. These commercials feature different kinds of “stress tests” faced by young women, both in the office and in everyday life.

The campaign kicked off by drawing attention to the gender wage gap: in the ad, a young woman gears up to ask her boss for a long-overdue raise. Subsequent videos tackle a variety of related topics, such as gender roles in relationships (videos prompted women to say the first “I love you” or work up the courage to propose), workplace challenges, and even the day-to-day difficulties faced by transgender women.


The campaign has been highly successful: the seven different videos have collectively garnered over 36 million views on YouTube and lots of positive feedback. “The Stress Test” is a great example of cause-related marketing for multiple reasons: not only is the central message tied to a social issue that directly impacts Secret’s target audience of young millennial women, but the topic is also relevant; the campaign echoes sentiments expressed in other current campaigns, such as #StopObjectifyingWomen, which is an effort to draw attention to adverse effects of objectification in advertising.

Finally, the company is also walking the walk by running the campaign in a manner that aligns with the cause they are supporting. A representative from PNG told Adweek, “We are a brand with a number of women leaders and we’ve also been very purposeful to work with women creators throughout the campaign. Whenever possible, we’ve chosen to work with female directors, photographers, creatives and other partners to shape this brand with us.” Implementing changes that work towards the cause Secret is supporting lends an added layer of credibility to their campaign.

The incorporation of cause-related messaging is something that any company can explore. So the next time you’re brainstorming for new ways to approach a campaign, why not start by doing some research on different charities and non-profit organizations? It’s worth taking the time to find a cause that pairs perfectly with your brand, because when you find one that fits, it can have a huge impact.