Flood relief. Fighting hunger. Fixing pot holes? Brands are stepping up to do good now more than ever. But what’s the difference between cause marketing, corporate responsibility and taking a stand in the face of disaster? Or are the lines so blurred that regardless of whether it’s stunt marketing or done for altruistic reasons, the help is much appreciated, and it doesn’t even matter?


The truth is, brands can’t afford to skip out on not doing the right thing. Because when brands step up, it means something. Everyone knows the story of TOMS, the company who donates shoes to children in need with every purchase. To date, more than 60 million pairs of shoes have been donated. Realizing the success of this “One for One” program, TOMS has also created a movement that is providing eyewear, clean water, bags and more to make an impact on global issues.

Another big brand stepping up to help globally is PepsiCo. For more than 13 years, Pepsi has been working towards delivering “sustainable long-term growth while leaving a positive imprint on society and the environment.” They call it Performance with Purpose. By 2025, Pepsi hopes to achieve great things across three areas: products, planet, and people. Stuff like working to conserve water around the globe and engaging 4,000 growers in 38 countries to boost sustainable farming. There’s even a cool hashtag if you’re interested in following their progress so far.


On a more local level, Anheuser-Busch recently sent two truckloads of canned water to Nebraska to assist with communities affected by flooding. And it’s not the first time they’ve done this either. Since 1988 in fact, Anheuser-Busch has donated over 80 million cans to support communities across America that have been hit by natural disaster. To pause beer production in order to can emergency drinking water for disaster relief is not just neighborly, it’s human. I mean, what’s more humanizing for a brand than to step up and help other humans?

Take Dean Foods for example. With 41 million Americans going hungry, including 13 million children, Shoptology worked with Dean Foods to support an important cause – fighting hunger. We partnered them with Feeding America to show shoppers how they could “Share the Goodness” and help those less fortunate with every DairyPure and TruMoo purchase. The program generated a half million meals for the hungry – and a nice little sales lift for Dean Foods over the holidays last year.


In the wake of the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire, Ubisoft pledged over $500,000 to help restore it. Ubisoft is not the only company donating to the reconstruction efforts, but it definitely has strong ties to the 856-year-old church. In 2014, the Notre-Dame was featured in Assassin’s Creed: Unity, which took a Ubisoft artist over two years to accurately depict it in the game. While they are not currently involved in the physical reconstruction – other than pledging funds – Ubisoft offered the game for free to let people “experience the majesty and beauty of the Notre-Dame the best way [they] know how.”

Domino’s is also doing good by patching potholes across America because “bad roads shouldn’t happen to good pizza.” Some say this stunt was done purely to sell more pizzas, but really, there are two sides to this pie-shaped coin. One side is that states only have so much funding to fix road problems, along with everything else. The other side is that, yes, bad roads can cause local stores to remake damaged pizza or, even worse, cause a late pizza delivery. Sure, it’s probably not the biggest killer to Domino’s bottom-line, but every little bit helps.

Maybe it’s not just doing the right thing when a brand steps in to help. Maybe it’s also a way to boost their brand’s face and make the shopper feel good about buying their product. But there’s power in purpose, especially ones that make the world a better place. Even if it is just fixing a pothole in Walla Walla, Washington.