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5 campaigns that actually made a difference

5 campaigns that actually made a difference Lauren Friedman

When it comes to combining marketing with a cause, few brands get it just right. Many times, it's hard to come across as authentic and actually make a difference, while also marketing your brand or product. But it's important to remember that basing campaigns on emotions -- making your audience feel something -- can truly inspire action. Here are a few examples of campaigns that do just that.

Save the Children's #HelpIsComing

Save the Children tugged on our heartstrings with an incredibly powerful PSA. The short video "Most Shocking Second A Day" launched in the wake of the third anniversary of the Syrian Civil War. With the hashtag #helpisontheway, Save the Children used this video and other compelling content, such as interviews with child refugees and celebrities, to not only generate awareness around their cause, but also to drive people to give through a text message campaign.

The Oatmeal's Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens, the tabletop game created by a team that included Matthew Inman, the cartoonist who created The Oatmeal, actually gave back to the community? Yes, it did -- in a roundabout way. The campaign funded itself fully on its first day as a Kickstarter, and is still the No. 1 most-funded game and most-backed Kickstarter project ever.

But it wasn't just about the game. Essentially, when copyright infringers threatened The Oatmeal with an expensive -- and frankly, stupid -- lawsuit, Inman responded with a $20k challenge to raise money for both the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation. The campaign was an overwhelming success with The Oatmeal raising over $200,000. Very creative and impactful.

MSLGROUP's Water to Wine

It all began when Wine to Water, founded by Doc Hendley, a former bartender, and two industry experts pulled off a giant hoax with the help of MSLGROUP. They developed and launched a product, The Miracle Machine, which claimed to turn water into wine in three days. Business Insider ran the first article about this fresh, new startup and that's all it took to go viral. The Miracle Machine appeared in over 600 publications and a Kickstarter campaign for the machine generated over 7,000 requests for more information. The hoax introduced Wine to Water to millions of potential supporters

Then, Wine to Water revealed the true miracle:

The true miracle isn't turning water into wine, but actually the opposite – turning wine into water. For the cost of a bottle of wine, Wine to Water can provide clean drinking water to a family for five years.

The Ad Council's #IAmAWitness

Adobe and several other sponsors partnered with Ad Council for the "I Am a Witness" campaign that gives teens a voice to speak out against bullying. The campaign offers teens a way to make their voice heard via a new emoji shaped like a speech bubble with an eye at its center. The emoji is both a symbol that can publicly and visibly call out bullies, as well as a gesture of support to the victims of bullying.

Old Navy's #Unlimited

Last back-to-school season, Old Navy asked kids at Boys & Girls Clubs around the country what it means to be #Unlimited. The brand partnered with AwesomenessTV's biggest stars to create an inspirational music video in-line with the brand's mission to give every child the resources they need to be #Unlimited. The song reminds kids that they're #Unlimited no matter what obstacles or fears they face and encourages them to "be strong, be bold, and be brave" whenever challenges arise. Old Navy also held a fundraising campaign in-stores to donate to Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada.

Lauren Friedman is the head of Global Social Business Enablement at Adobe.  She's a digital and social marketing authority, with extensive experience working with Fortune 500 brands to integrate digital and social media into their overarching...

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