Cause marketing is defined as a type of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in which a company’s promotional campaign has the dual purpose of increasing profitability while bettering society, according to

More specifically, cause marketing occurs when a company does well by doing good.

These definitions reflect’s focus, which views cause marketing from the perspective of marketing executives and directors of corporate social responsibility at for-profit companies.

In the cupcake world, there are many examples of effective cause marketing campaigns.

American Girl, a popular line of dolls, was first released in 1986. In celebration of its 35th birthday this year, the brand is having a virtual birthday party hosted by Magnolia Bakery.

The American Girl Birthday Bash, which took place May 8, featured cupcake-filled fun for attendees. A virtual cupcake decorating event, led Magnolia Bakery chief baking officer Bobbie Lloyd and special guests (influencers Rachel Pitzel, Ava and Leah Clements and Zooey Miyoshi), will take place on Zoom and will show how to make the bakery’s famous buttercream and decorate cupcakes.

The virtual event costs $115 and includes the online cupcake decorating class and a limited-edition American Girl x Magnolia Bakery Cupcake Kit. Each kit comes with six full-size and twelve mini vanilla cupcakes, edible star decorations, colorful sprinkles, powdered sugar and food gel dye to make your own buttercream, icing bags and decorating tips. It also comes with an American Girl cupcake toy.

During the tutorial, there will also be a game of trivia to test the family’s knowledge of all things American Girl and fun American Girl videos to watch, including a new “Happy Birthday American Girl” music video.

Guests can pick up a special American Girl cupcake between May 10-23 at any Magnolia Bakery location. They can also join the birthday celebration with a virtual cupcake decorating party with Bobbie Lloyd, chief baking officer of Magnolia Bakery.

“As chief baking officer, my job changes throughout the day,” Lloyd said in a PBS interview. “I may be working on a new recipe with our production team or opening a new location. I work very closely with our management team on a retail level as well. As our company grows, we continually search for ways to be more efficient and cut costs, yet deliver the same customer experience no matter what market.”

Magnolia Bakery opened its first location on a cozy street corner in the heart of New York’s West Village in the summer of 1996. From its inception, Magnolia has been cherished for its classic American baked goods, vintage decor and warm, inviting atmosphere. In 2007, Magnolia’s original owner passed her oven mitts to Steve and Tyra Abrams. Together, with the Abrams, they have thoughtfully expanded the bakery from its first West Village shop to its current eight locations worldwide.

Equipment trends

To execute a great marketing campaign, you need to start with the right equipment. The trend toward single serve and minis has taken off even more since the surge with at-home food consumption. So, what are the tricks of the trade when it comes to icing, glazing and finishing mini cupcakes?

The “trick” is the 30-plus years of expertise and experience decorating and finishing baked goods, that drives the development of Unifiller equipment.

“Our experience and passion ignite ideas and innovation,” explains Sonia Bal, director of marketing for Unifiller Systems. “We have several options for decorating mini desserts, it really depends on the customers overall needs (throughput, staff availability, etc), product specifications (product viscosity, batch size, particulates, product temperature, etc); and fine tuning our equipment configurations for their needs.”

There have also been times that the customer's need for the equipment has driven the need to improve/standardize their processes or recipe, resulting in greater ROI and a happier customer.

Unifiller’s RP depositor has been used to finish mini cupcakes bites with buttercream frosting and sprinkles, at 15+ across. By the same account, the Pro and Multistation depositors have been used, with a custom cupcake head, to finish 8 cupcakes at a time, while our robotic module can finish 6, 8 or 12 cupcakes, in shell packaging. “Our injection and enrobing equipment easily injects, enrobes and drizzles snack and cupcakes. Customers have used the injection systems to inject cupcakes with fruit fillings, custards and flavored buttercreams. Customers really just want more throughput, the ability to offset the limited availability of staff while ensuring that they can produce products at lower cost per cupcake,” Bal says.

Further, don't forget small and large-scale batter depositors are available for accurate batter portions when it comes to cupcake production that can help bakeries ensure they are reducing product waste and producing as efficiently as possible.

New promotions

On the retail front, cupcakes and small cheesecakes and gaining popularity because of new innovations and marketing campaigns.

la Madeleine French Bakery & Café is committed to sharing the joie de vivre (joy of living) with guests by using fresh, wholesome ingredients in its offerings. And the arrival of spring brings bountiful new ingredients that la Madeleine has incorporated into new menu items.

 For a limited time, guests can embrace the warmer weather while enjoying these flavorful new offerings, including the Berries & Cream Cheesecake, an individual cheesecake topped with a fresh strawberry, blueberry and whipped cream. 

Also, la Madeleine is also bringing back these fan-favorites that are perfect for the spring:

Examples are the Lemon Blueberry Danish, featuring a flaky pastry dough with lemon filling, topped with blueberries and drizzled with icing, and the Mini Liberte Tart, an Individual tart topped with glazed raspberries, blueberries and whipped cream. 

“Our culinary team is constantly innovating to offer our guests an enhanced experience with more variety,” said Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Fox. “Spring has its own flavor profiles, including berries and citrus, so we created offerings showcasing fresh strawberries, blueberries and other seasonal favorites. We have no doubt that guests will quickly become fans of these craveable items.”

In other unique promotions, to celebrate the occasion, just in time for National Unicorn Day, Mother's has teamed up with Sprinkles to introduce a limited-edition cupcake inspired by the new cookies.

Aptly called the Mythical Creature by Mother's, the cupcakes were available for one week only, from April 5 – 11. The cupcake is a pink, blue and purple sprinkle studded vanilla cake, sugar cookie crust, pink vanilla buttercream frosting, lightly sprinkled with silver sugar crystals and topped with a Mythical Creature Cookie.

"We're so excited to introduce Sparkling Mythical Creature Cookies, the first innovation from Mother's in nearly a decade – and an extension to the popular Circus Animal cookies," says Rachna Patel, senior director Cookies Marketing at Ferrara. "We hope the cookies spark joy and imagination as a fun treat parents can share with kids, and we're happy to partner with Sprinkles to bring the playful nature of our cookies to life in a new way."

Mother's Sparkling Mythical Creature Cookies are available at Target and Albertson® in a 9-ounce bag for an average suggested retail price of $3.49 and at Walmart in an 18-count multipack starting at an average suggested retail price of $6.99. The Mythical Creature by Mother's cupcake is available at all Sprinkles bakeries, online at, and at bakery ATM's for $5.50-$6.50, depending on bakery.

"We're always looking for flavors that are innovative and will resonate with our guests," said Charles Craig, vice president of Culinary at Sprinkles. "Our limited-edition Mythical Creature Cupcake is a new, fun way to enjoy a nostalgic treat. Last year we baked up a Circus Animal cupcake that was inspired by Mother's Animal Cookies and our guests loved it. With the release of Mother's Sparkling Mythical Creature Cookies, we have the chance to develop a new flavor that would wow our guests."

To learn more about the Mother's cookies, visit and follow @motherscookiesus on Instagram and @Mother'sCookies on Facebook. Visit on Instagram, @sprinkles on Facebook and @sprinkles on Twitter to learn all about Sprinkles cupcakes.

Since 1914, Mother's has been sparking celebrations and creating moments of cookie joy. From helping families celebrate holidays to becoming an after-school snack staple to inspiring delicious dessert recipes, Mother's has been there for all the sweet moments, baking memories into every bite. Mother's extensive cookie portfolio includes: Mother's® Circus Animal®, Mother's® Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mother's® Coconut Cocadas®, Mother's® Double Fudge Cookies, Mother's® English Tea® Cookies, Mother's® Taffy® Dulce de Leche, Mother's® Iced Oatmeal Cookies, Mother's® Oatmeal Cookies and Mother's® Peanut Butter Gauchos Cookies.

Ferrara, a company related to The Ferrero Group, is an emerging powerhouse in the North American confections and sweet snacking categories. A passionate team of nearly 6,000 employees works together to share delight in every bite through leading brands that have shaped the industry for more than 100 years. Our diverse portfolio of nearly 35 brands includes SweeTARTS®, Trolli®, Brach's®, Black Forest® and NERDS®, along with iconic favorites like Lemonhead®, Red Hots® and Now and Later®. Ferrara also manages the Keebler® and Famous Amos® businesses for The Ferrero Group. Headquartered in Chicago, Ferrara has an operational network of 20 locations in North America that includes manufacturing, distribution and R&D facilities. Learn more at

Sprinkles makes real celebrations taste better with premium, baked-fresh daily cupcakes, cakes, candy and cookies. Since 2005, Sprinkles has innovated their way to an ever growing, loyal fan base for their unexpected flavors, on-demand Cupcake ATMs, convenient online ordering and steadily expanding footprint of design forward bakeries coast to coast. Today, the brand proudly leverages its platform to support the empowerment of women and continuously put their guests first.

Beyond cupcakes

Sprinkles Cupcakes is also asking the question, “Why stop at cupcakes?” with its latest offerings. The cupcake bakery chain is moving to the world of candy with its new chocolate bars based on popular cupcake flavors.

Sprinkles Chocolate is a line of premium chocolates inspired by the bakery’s best-selling cupcake flavors: Red Velvet, Dark Chocolate, Black & White, and Sprinkle. Each piece is handcrafted and made from fine Belgian chocolate with sweet and unique flavors, featuring the bakery’s signature swirl and modern dots and sprinkles.

Supporting causes

Others continue to push the envelope with creative promotions that drive higher sales of cupcakes.

In support of Autism Speaks and National Autism Awareness Month, Gigi’s Cupcakes and its Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania location were asking for donations at checkout during the month of April.

Customers who donated to Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to promoting solutions for the needs of individuals with autism and their families, receive a puzzle piece that they will be able to write their name on and place on the wall of Gigi's Cupcakes throughout the month of April.

Gigi's Cupcakes Pittsburgh also created a special cupcake that will be available for purchase every weekend in April. The limited-time cupcake will feature a decadent fondant puzzle piece in support of Autism Speaks. Gigi's Cupcakes will donate $1 for every cupcake sold and proceeds will be donated to Autism Speaks at the end of April.

In other campaigns, New York’s Junior’s Restaurant gave away free mini cupcake-size versions of its world-renowned cheesecake to anyone who shows their COVID-19 vaccination card at the brand’s landmark restaurant at Flatbush Avenue EXT and DeKalb in Downtown Brooklyn.

Running through Memorial Day, the free Junior’s Mini Cheesecakes are available – one mini cheesecake per guest – any day of the week. In order to qualify, guests will need to show proof of receipt of the Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccines – one shot or two.

The Junior’s Mini Cheesecakes are mini versions of the Original New York Cheesecakes, which are handmade using Junior’s special recipe featuring fresh premium cream cheese, heavy cream, eggs and a touch of vanilla.

While best known for its cheesecake, Junior’s also offers a full “diner-style” menu inclusive of sandwiches, soups, salads, steaks, seafood dishes and more.