Focus: Corporate Responsibility - Three-way partnership to revitalise corporate giving

Unilever, Sainsbury's and Sport Relief have teamed up in a unique cause-related marketing collaboration, writes Anita Pati.

As the level of corporate giving continues to slide, a unique three-way partnership between a retailer, a manufacturer and a charity has been established to show how cause-related marketing can still secure cash from companies.

You Buy U Give is a partnership between Unilever, Sainsbury's and Sport Relief. Unusually, it includes 30 of the pharmaceutical giant's brands, and Unilever's donation will be uncapped.

Customers who want to support the initiative, which runs from May to July, will need to register their Nectar cards online at and then purchase Unilever products in Sainsbury's shops.

The supermarket, which is also overall sponsor of the Sport Relief Mile fun run in July, will use Nectar cards to track which products have been bought by participating customers. The retailer will pass this information on to Sport Relief and Unilever.

Unilever will donate 10 per cent of the retail price of products bought by participating customers to the charity, and has guaranteed a minimum donation of £200,000.

Thomas Lingard, corporate responsibility manager for Unilever UK, said: "We are extremely proud to be supporting Sport Relief through You Buy U Give. Unilever is committed to corporate responsibility, and recognises that as part of this it has a key role to play in developing innovative ways to support the voluntary sector and safeguard the funding it needs to continue its invaluable work."

A spokeswoman for Sport Relief said the charity had never worked with a whole portfolio of brands and was not aware of this having occurred before.

Catherine Sermon, director of CRM at Business in the Community, agreed that the combination was rare and could maximise charity income effectively.

"As corporate donations wobble, this shows that CRM is one strong way of securing hard cash from companies," she said.

Sport Relief is also Sainsbury's nominated charity, and branches will be fundraising as part of Sport Relief's wider fundraising initiative this year.


Adam Colling, head of corporate partnerships, Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Major retailers such as Marks & Spencer are increasingly incorporating high-profile cause marketing in their marketing mix, but what stands out here is that Unilever - a fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) company - is doing it.

Unilever has not traditionally used its corporate brand to sell products to consumers, but with You Buy U Give has integrated its name into the consumer marketing message. We can't recall another example in which an FMCG company has been so prominent in a cause marketing promotion of this scale, and perhaps it signals a new trend.

Marks & Spencer's partnership with Breakthrough Breast Cancer continues to push new boundaries for cause-related marketing on the high street.

Later this year Marks & Spencer will trial a range of lingerie designed for post-surgery wear. The company's staff, customers and suppliers have helped to raise more than £4m since the partnership began.

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