The Lee jeans company claims its National Denim Day has been ranked “one of the Top 10 Most Influential Cause Marketing Campaigns of All Time” by the Cause Marketing Forum, and named “one of the most imaginative campaigns” by Forbes.
It’s really just a “Casual Friday” fundraiser. As I wrote recently in Change Marketing, my first exposure to Casual Fridays in the corporate world was exactly this: you get to wear jeans to work by paying a $5 “fine” that goes to charity.
As a jeans company, Lee claimed ownership of the trend in 1996, and has raised more than $86 million for the American Cancer Society, with nearly one million participants annually.
It’s not a bad campaign, in comparison to some. They aren’t asking participants to buy and wear their brand of jeans (although they do sell pink ribboned “Denim Day Gear”). However, I had expected to see some sort of matching donation on the part of the host corporation, which ends up otherwise gaining free social responsibility points for simply donating other people’s money to the ACS.
And not only free PR, but free ad placements as well:
It’s a thoroughly branded campaign, and any group that downloads the posters, badges and other “free” resources is doing Lee’s work for it.
Not that this isn’t an important cause. But I think fundraisers should always be aware of how they are being used by the brands who engage them.