Focus: Corporate Responsibility - Side by side

Debenhams and Breast Cancer Campaign have enjoyed a five-year cause-related marketing tie-up, with funds being raised through the sale of products during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

- Helen Frame, senior PR and product marketing manager, Debenhams

Five years ago, we approached Breast Cancer Campaign to explore a long-term partnership, focusing on raising funds to help the charity's aim of researching a cure for breast cancer, as well as raising awareness of breast cancer and its symptoms among our female staff and customers.

We chose BCC because it appealed to Debenhams' 85 per cent female customer base. Statistics show that one in nine women in the UK will be affected by breast cancer during her lifetime, and we wanted to support a cause that touched our customers, staff and suppliers.

The activity is focused around a four-week campaign every October when we donate money from sales, particularly bra sales. Other products include swimwear, T-shirts, cosmetics bags and mugs. In 2004, the partnership raised £327,300 for BCC, a 45 per cent increase on the 2003 campaign.

One of the challenges we face is to make sure that the appeal of the partnership is increased each year. This year, for example, men's products will be featured for the first time.

- Louise Ajdukiewicz, corporate partnerships senior manager, Breast Cancer Campaign

We chose this partnership because it gives us a high-profile presence on the high street, meaning we can reach a diverse new audience and raise breast awareness directly among Debenhams' customers and staff. At the same time, we can raise significant funds for our research projects. Debenhams is now BCC's longest-standing corporate partner.

The best thing about working with Debenhams is the commitment and enthusiasm of the team and the significant level of resources the company provides in terms of personnel, time and expenditure. We also appreciate the support of staff and customers and the creativity in terms of designs and products made each year. Finally, we've seen success in our fundraising year on year, with sales increases in many product areas.

This has meant that we've had to grow significantly. When this partnership began, we had a total staff of 12 and limited resources of just one office, based in London. Now we have a corporate partnerships team of five people, with a dedicated account manager and a corporate media officer.

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