They may not be going to the playoffs, but the Dallas Cowboys unusual partnership with the Salvation Army still scored big cause marketing points this holiday season.
Last season, Ezekiel Elliott caused a social media stir when he jumped into the Salvation Army kettles which adorn the back of the end zone at AT and T Stadium each holiday season as part of a special partnership between the team and the charity, one of the more unique signage placements in professional sports. While the Seahawks Justin Coleman mimicked the leap during Seattle’s win at Dallas last Sunday (and will probably be fined, although Elliott was not last season and raised more than $200,000 as a result if the leap) the real benefit for the charity came through a partnership with NFL sponsor Tostitos and Elliott’s teammate Dak Prescott this fall a bit of a change from the usual brand marketing play and one which tapped into cause marketing dollars as well as traditional sponsorship.
Tostitos, a Pepsi brand, made a donation for every bag of its new Yellow Corn Bite Size tortilla chips purchased from mid-November until the end of the year, up to $500,000, to support local Salvation Army chapters. The program gave everyone a chance to “chip in” across the country through the holidays and was a very different spin for the Salvation Army to raise funds away from their usual work on the streets.
Tapping unto traditional marketing dollars and philanthropic causes isn’t that unusual as cause marketing grows, but using a big time spokesperson and getting exposure on a massive national broadcast platform is, so the cross play between the chip maker, the team, Prescott and the Salvation Army is another example of how team involvement can ratchet up a plan.
It has always been interesting to see that the Cowboys have ceded some of their most valuable real estate…the end zone signage, to a cause, the Salvation Army, for years. No other brands, no other rotational signage, no other visibility other than the red shield.
In reality, the Jones family relationship has driven over $2 BILLION for the Salvation Army since the partnership was started in the 1990’s by Cowboys Executive Vice President Charlotte Jones Anderson, as a result of some of the negative stories that had arisen off of some of the off-field actions by Cowboys players. The result was a longstanding cause based partnership that has kicked off every year with a Thanksgiving game concert, and hours of special events for awareness in and around Texas and now it had a national platform like never before.
A great example for best practices tying key factors; a national partner, an elite team, a recognizable athlete, and a massive media play, together to score for all, especially the charity at a time of year when cutting through the clutter is not easy.