Will Marre, Branding Expert, Says The Real Winner of the Tour de France is Nike's Chalkbot

July 23, 2009 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
San Diego, CA July 23, 2009 – Nike's inspiring messages of hope and courage left by the chalkbot along the road of the Tour de France is a vivid illustration of Nike's continuing commitment to the Livestrong cause of fighting cancer, according to Will Marre, acclaimed cause marketing and branding speaker and powerful workshop leader. Marre asserts that together Nike and Lance Armstrong have turned what started as a cause marketing campaign into a worldwide phenomenon and demonstrate how cause marketing can be a very powerful tool for both the cause and the company if practiced strategically.

Today cause marketing is on the rise. According to IEG Inc. as reported in onPhilanthropy, cause-marketers spent $1.11 billion on cause-related sponsorships and activation in 2005 and grew to $1.34 billion in 2006. Cause marketing sponsorships now outpace sports sponsorships. The projected increase makes cause marketing the fastest-growing segment of sponsorship, outpacing the industry's overall growth rate of 10.6% to a projected $13.4 billion.

While cause marketing is gaining momentum, it is not without its criticisms. In "Cause-Related Marketing: Why Social Change and Corporate Profits Don't Mix" (http://www.prwatch.org/node/4965) Inger Stole asserts that one problem with cause marketing is that some partnerships are far from equal. Marre agrees, but contends, that the reason is that the mutual commitments between the sponsoring companies and the NGO are too weak and not strategic. He states, "Cause Marketing can be a strong tool and pay off both for the cause as well as for the companies if both parties act as strategic partners. It's got to be a marketing merger that is based on practical idealism for it to work."

In an excerpt found on YouTube from Marre's cause marketing and branding speech, "Will Marre, Cause Marketing Speaker, on Nike's Livestrong Campaign" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NVj06wk1ag), Marre discusses how Nike's Livestrong campaign is a great example of a strong strategic partnership because both Nike and The Armstrong Foundation are exactly aligned with each other both in their commitment and brand. He states, "Nike and Lance Armstrong are connected on this cure for cancer for the foreseeable future. Nike's in too deep, and it works for them. Why does it work for them? Because it's very consistent with their brand."

Marre further discusses Livestrong's success in "Author Will Marre Says Nike's Livestrong Campaign is Compelling Case of Why Businesses Worldwide Should Adopt Cause Marketing Today" (http://www.prweb.com/releases/WillMarre/causemarketing/prweb2637504.htm) stating, "100 percent of the Livestrong profits completely align with Nike's 'hero' brand. 100 percent is an unmistakable commitment. And 100 percent commitment is at the core of Nike's message." Marre continues, "What really separates the Livestrong campaign from others is that the cause doesn't just support the brand; it is the brand. That is a huge differentiator."

The momentum for the Livestrong cause that was started with Nike's yellow bracelets continues to grow as Lance Armstrong returned to the 2009 Tour de France. Of his decision, Lance states in his heartfelt blog, "Why I Ride: An Open Letter" (http://livestrongblog.org/2009/07/03/why-i-ride-an-open-letter/), "I knew I could compete at the highest level of racing but this time I was motivated from a different perspective….That collective, grassroots movement built by all of you has been remarkably powerful for me personally and also powerful in moving cancer back into the consciousness of decision makers…That energy is why I am riding again: to make cancer a global priority."

To support Lance and his cause, Nike has grown their Livestrong campaign by investing in cutting-edge innovations like the chalkbot that has published 100,000 inspirational messages about fighting cancer along the roads of the world's most famous bicycle race, the Tour de France. Marre states, "Nike has made their brand stronger than ever in a creative and inspiring way and The Lance Armstrong Foundation is getting worldwide attention and support." He continues, "Through brilliant innovation and a long-term investment Nike has become synonymous with fighting cancer."

In addition to his passionate speeches, Marre also conducts workshops for corporate business leaders and nonprofits in which he uses several case studies showing how for-profit corporations can move from contributing to non-profit causes to becoming full partners in social and environmental problem solving. He promises that in the process businesses can achieve three key goals including building brand equity, improving employee recruitment and retention, and employee leadership development. "Most corporate philanthropy are simply random acts of giving," states Marre. "The problem is most corporations don't invest in full talent behind their causes, and most non-profits don't know how to structure their programs toward corporate partners." However, Marre's cases and his eight steps to building a brand charity provide a clear roadmap to mutual benefit.

Marre's enthusiasm is contagious, and his message creates mind-blowing strategic outcomes as he inspires companies to think differently about cause marketing and branding. He states, "With the right strategic combination, cause marketing can simultaneously breed fierce customer loyalty, strengthen brand image, and make a positive impact on humanity. If you doubt it, just look at Nike."

About Will Marre:
Will is an Emmy Award-winning writer, speaker and coach. He is the co-founder and former president of the Covey Leadership Center (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) and CEO of the REALeadership Alliance where he helps leaders identify, communicate and implement new socially strategic business models. Will has been a personal leadership coach and advisor to multi-billion dollar global companies such as Disney and Johnson & Johnson. For the past 10 years he has focused on making corporate social responsibility strategic. His book, Save the World and Still Be Home for Dinner will be released in fall 2009.

For more information on opportunities to have Will speak, please visit www.WillMarre.com, or for more information on Will's consulting practice, please visit www.Realeadership.com. You can also follow Will on Twitter (@WillMarre) and Facebook.