San Diego Chargers’ PR Campaign is a winner

What do the San Diego Chargers and Ronald McDonald House have in common? Two very different organizations came together for one cause. In a blog titled Authentic PR Counsel, Krista Rodgers from Gable PR explained about the successful cause marketing campaign involving the San Diego Chargers and Ronald McDonald House. The Chargers teamed up with the non-profit organization to raise proceeds that goes towards providing homes for families with hospitalized children. The Ronald McDonald House allows families across the nation to stay together, live near a treatment hospital and the hospitalized to recieve the medical attention they need during visitations.

The cause marketing campaign creates positive publicity for the Chargers and support for a non-profit organization. Not only is the campaign raising funds for a good cause but also increasing awareness for both organizations. Rodgers said, “The two joining forces together is original, creates a sense of community, brings people who may not normally follow the Chargers to pay attention to the games, and connects football fans with a cause they may not previously been aware of.”

The cause marketing campaign is successful for the NFL team and non-profit organization in many ways and affects different areas of PR.

  • Crisis/reputation management: Philanthropic efforts will help any professional athlete who may have a negative reputation with the public. Sports teams that give back to the community create a strong relationship with their fans, community and media.
  • Brand awareness:  Word-of-mouth and marketing the Chargers’ image through another organization, creates branding. The Chargers are now expanding their market to parents, children, hospital staffs and the rest of the community. While the Chargers are gaining promotion, the Ronald McDonald House is earning fundraising.
  • Community relations: Companies apply programs supportive of the community ranging from supporting local organizations and institutions to conducting educational workshops to donations for community events and charitable fundraisers. For many companies developing good relations with target audiences includes building strong relationships with their regional community.

Essentially, a for-profit organization is helping a non-profit organization and vice versa. Rodgers shared the following tips to keep in mind while designing a cause marketing campaign:

1. “Be original: Although contributing to The Ronald McDonald House isn’t groundbreaking, tying the success of the Charger’s kickers with donations is innovative and ties the pledge to something that’s both fun and easily measurable. The more novel your strategy, the more interested the media will be in covering your efforts.”

2. “Pick a cause that is significant to your brand or your target audience. In this example, the Chargers are reaching out to the local community and Charger fans.”

3. “Get the word out! Let people know what you are doing and take initiative in creating buzz around your campaign. Spread the word through public relations, public service announcements on television and radio, scoreboard mentions, email blasts, billboards and cost-free communication networks such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.”

As a PR student who is eager to enter the sports/entertainment industry, I have learned many PR professionals in the community relations department help their sports teams affiliate with local charities. The Phoenix Suns for example is associated with NBA Cares and the basketball players are involved with certain community-service events within the Valley. Explain why or why not the Chargers and Ronald McDonald campaign is successful. Do you believe cause marketing strategies are useful for professional sports teams? Do you know other successful PR campaigns concerning cause marketing?

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6 Responses to San Diego Chargers’ PR Campaign is a winner

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  2. ncano says:

    I truly believe that building a cause marketing PR campaign is probably the best thing for professional sports. When I think of the Boys and Girls Club of America, I also associate Major League Baseball, why? Well every Saturday morning there is a show called “This Week in Baseball” where the show focuses on highlights, but also on a certain team and commercials play during that time and there is always a Boys and Girls Club commercial that has either a very well-known baseball player teaching boys and girls to play baseball. I think it’s smart because children look up to these athletes so why not partner up with children charities.

    For instance, I know the community relations person for the Diamondbacks and she spends her time working with players to go to children’s hospitals. She loves that part of her job, even if the players aren’t always willing to go, they do see the positive aspect of going and being active with children. When you pair sports with children, it shows a softer side of sports that most people don’t always think about. It brings the community together, like Rogers said. You create this bond with the community because these famous and million of dollars athletes are getting out in the community and giving back. It becomes personable with the community when players step out of the limelight and work with a non-profit to help because they are so successful in their careers that donating time instead of money is a better thing and it just shows the community that they have a heart and aren’t just a famous unattainable player or sports team.

    Another successful PR campaign concerning cause marketing that I can think of is “Vh1 Save the Music” ( They have musicians like Alicia Keys, John Mayer and the list goes on about why it’s important to save the music in schools. They give back by donating and saying how music had helped them in school and get them where they are, because music is dying. Many celebrities have donated money to fund saving music programs because it’s important for a student to have some type of outlet or it helps them with understanding different subjects. There are tons of events that happen for celebrities, concerts that have been put on just to raise money for funding music programs in public schools.

  3. sdoyle says:

    I think it is always good for professional teams to do various non profit work. It can be a minimal time commitment for them but really has a great impact for the kids. Sports is such a positive influence on young people, it helps their self esteem, learns team work and leadership, helps them deal with pressure situations and if they can meet the players they look up to its only going to fuel their desire even more. I was very privileged that Jason and Jeremy Giambi went to my high school and were friends of the family so my school and I always had that role model and advice around and I think it really helped especially amongst the baseball players so anyway players give back is always a positive thing.

  4. bihrig says:

    Cause Marketing can defiantly be effective, if used correctly. I would consider the Chargers campaign successful because they received more fans. It seems ever sports team does cause marketing to increase their fan base and keep the loyalty of current fans. The Chargers, along with other teams, have gain fans whom may have never watched sports before, but are now watching their games and even attending them. Cause marketing is a good move on any for profile company regardless of who their target audience is.

  5. kinoshita says:

    Cause marketing campaigns definitely benefit professional sports teams. With that said, it’s imperative that the team truly be behind the campaign (authenticity). For example, make sure the team isn’t involved in the campaign in name only. Players should go to events, know and be able to talk about the cause, etc. It’s easier to do these things when the team is passionate about the cause. If the cause marketing campaign is merely a gimmick to help repair or build up a blemished reputation, publics can see through that. Then the team opens itself up to more backlash.

    It’s also important to remember that regardless of whether or not the cause is the perfect fit for the team or something very simply and guaranteed to be a success, strategy is still key. Like any other campaign, strategy is the foundation to success. The Chargers have a great strategy. They are guaranteeing donations, raising awareness about the cause and connecting their immediate community. It’s pretty much full proof, and the team’s vulnerability is very low. There aren’t a lot of things people can complain about with this cause marketing campaign.

  6. sferrer says:

    Nathalie- Thank you for sharing the “Save the Music” campaign. Similarly, the campaign you mentioned brings musicians and a good cause together. I also believe it’s very enlightening when professional athletes, actors, musicians, etc. step outside of the limelight and use their talents towards creating a better community.

    Samantha- I agree that many children look up to athletes as role models. When they set good examples, they catch attention from children, parents and the rest of the community.

    Britney- You made a valid point about cause marketing. Cause marketing really does raise awareness, participation and business. It’s a win-win situation for organizations that join together.

    Kim- I absolutely think that teams should really be passionate about the non-profit organization that they are associated to. They should really research before they decide to add their face or name to a certain cause. The lack of research, compassion or desire for a certain charity can potentially damage an athlete or team’s reputation.

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