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Cause branding

Photo from ArtistasCafé.com website.

Cause marketing is nothing new to brand builders.

But this program is really special and was the deciding factor when I purchased my last automobile.

Several years ago I had to put my car in the body shop and I needed a rental car. The rental car company that my insurance carrier worked with had a relationship with the local Mercedes dealership and I ended up there to pick up my car.

I had never been to this dealership before and was not in the market for a new car, but that day I left with a memorable first impression.

The showroom was more like a sophisticated retail store than the typical dealership. There were no hawking sale people looking for their next deal to pounce on and there were no loud blinking signs promoting their low prices. Instead there was a professional and knowledgeable team all stylishly uniformed, from the greeters in bright designer dresses to the valets in tailored khakis and sporty shirts. Smooth jazz filled the air and the walls were filled big contemporary art and images of art like cars.

Even though I was just there picking up a rental car, everyone was over the top kind and welcoming.

In addition to beautiful display of cars, they had a boutique filled with well-merchandised Mercedes-branded apparel and accessories and a quiet waiting room with ample private areas to work or make calls. However, the coolest part of the experience had nothing to do with selling cars, it was their refreshment area. A place they call Artistas Café. Here customers are served complimentary coffees, teas and fresh fruit smoothies. And not your average coffee shop, this gem is run by a non-profit foundation called Art for Autism. Beret sporting and garbed in purple art smocks, the team at Artistas Café is beaming full of happy and hospitable attitudes. All of the baristas share a common challenge, they have Asperger’s and are autistic.

Mercedes co-branding

The café is the brainchild of Vicky Westra whose daughter has autism. In 2007 she struggled to find information on the disorder and the foundation was born. The café idea came in 2010 when GM, at the time, approached her wholesale coffee company about running a shop in the dealership. Westra saw a chance to help those with autism. The dealership agreed.

Artistas co-branding

This win-win partnership provides training and job opportunities for folks who may have a tough time finding an understanding employer due to their autism while providing the dealership and the community a great little brand that serves up big smiles, coffee and snacks. The café is open to the public. You can learn more about the program and the team here.

A few years after my initial introduction to the dealership and the Artistas Café, I needed a new car. That awesome experience that day, years earlier stuck with me. I had many choices in Tampa to find nice cars and even friendly service. This dealership created an experience unlike other dealerships and added something really special.

Is there an opportunity for a win/win cause marketing program  that gives back to a non profit and adds to the experience your brand delivers?

Brand on!