American Marketer


Ralph Lauren tags Parkinson’s foundation with merchandise sell

April 7, 2011



Polo Ralph Lauren is using digital and in-store marketing to promote its collaboration with the Michael J. Fox Foundation to raise money for Parkinson’s disease via dog tag sales.

The retailer is selling the dog tags on its Web sites and in Ralph Lauren retail stores. All of the proceeds will go toward the fight to cure Parkinson’s.

“The Michael J. Fox Foundations is compelling because America has a positive relationship with Michael Fox,” said Chris Ramey, president of Affluent Insights, Miami, FL.

“We’re watching how Parkinson’s is affecting him and it pulls on our heart-strings,” he said. “The collaboration illustrates that Ralph Lauren is a caring and compassionate individual.”

Tag sales

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. The disease affects one in 100 people over the age of 60.

The Foundation’s namesake, Michael J. Fox, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991 and is an activist for the cause.

The actor disclosed his condition in 1998 which eventually led him to develop the foundation in 2000.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation dog tags are designed by Ralph Lauren. They are made from nickel-plated brass and include authentic font and stamping methods.

Consumers can choose from two motivational quotes, “Be Inspired” and “Be Involved,” on one tag. The other tag is inscribed with “Be Bold,” and has the foundation's logo.

The dog tags are sold for $95 and are available via Ralph Lauren retail locations, and

Users can also visit the commerce-enabled mobile sites via smartphone or tablet devices.

Ralph Lauren has also incorporated an entire section of its Web site to this new effort.

RLTV, the brand’s video component, features a segment where Michael J. Fox and his wife, Tracy Pollan talk about the Foundation and the new partnership with Ralph Lauren.

Cures marketing

This is not Ralph Lauren’s first foray into the charity world.

The brand recently announced the sale of polo shirts, the profits of which went to help those affected by the March tsunami and earthquakes in Japan (see story).

Ralph Lauren is not the only luxury brand to make a special item for a charity or good cause.

Other luxury brands not only gave back to the Japan victims, but many help out in other ways.

For instance, Nordstrom has partnered with footwear maker Toms in an attempt to raise money and awareness for third-world children without shoes (see story) and also partnered with the Susan G. Komen foundation in the fight against breast cancer (see story).

The key to engage consumers and get them to support a brand’s cause is to relate to them on a personal level.

“One of the keys to working with cause-related marketing is to emotionally touch people,” Mr. Ramey said. “[To] demonstrate that you care about the cause and ask them to care about the cause, too.”

Final Take

Rachel Lamb, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York