The current Halifax and Mencap debacle (MW August 14) demonstrates how quickly a cause-related marketing programme can go sour and how these sorts of relationships need to be handled very carefully and reviewed on a regular basis.
While the partnership was mutually beneficial over a period of nine years, it most certainly isn’t now, hence my comments. Key stakeholders, in this case the press and the consumer, irrespective of the perceived rights and wrongs of both parties’ actions, focus on the single issue of windfall shares not being paid out to those with learning difficulties.
The partnership is perceived, therefore, to be a bad one and will continue to be seen this way however much money Halifax has raised for Mencap in the past and however mutually beneficial the partnership was before the debacle.
So how can this situation be avoided? Simply by regularly auditing and evaluating any links between companies and the voluntary sector to ensure they continue to be mutually beneficial. Although I appreciate that Mencap needs all the money it can get, I still maintain it should sever links with Halifax.
By taking up a point of principle, this would generate excellent press and PR and encourage another financial services company, already committed to disability, to step in and develop an integrated cause-related marketing campaign that will motivate and support all the stakeholders of both parties.