Cause Marketing for an Ad-Averse Group

NEW YORK Does cause marketing work with a demographic that doesn’t want to be singled out in advertising? John Paul Mitchell Systems thinks so. The Beverly Hills, Calif.-based haircare company is launching its first teen-focused advertising campaign. And philanthropy, not product, will be front and center.

Paul Mitchell-sponsored athletes, students and celebrities are featured in the print campaign discussing their individual talents and charities of choice. Snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis and surfer Holly Beck support the Waterkeeper Alliance, and extreme freestyle skier T.J. Schiller champions American Forests.

Paul Mitchell students include Rachel Burney, an activist for Invisible Children (which is raising awareness for those in Northern Uganda). Drummer Matt Fine champions American Forests. His ad proclaims, “Trees rock!”

The company has a long history of philanthropy, but has never really promoted its efforts. “Philanthropy and charitable efforts are important to today’s teens, so we thought this was a good way to target them,” said Nanette Bercu, svp, creative, Paul Mitchell. “It was important to us to have a diverse group of people with different interests and passions in the campaign, rather than just using models.”

The ads are slated to run in Teen Vogue, Seventeen and CosmoGirl!, beginning in September, and seven sports magazines, including Surfer and Skateboarder, beginning in October. The campaign will run through winter.

The effort is being handled in-house. Spending was not disclosed. Paul Mitchell spent $16.7 million on ads in 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Support includes a Web site launching Aug. 15. Paul Mitchell also will tour college campuses and sports marketing events where it will host “cut-a-thons.” Proceeds will go to featured charities.