What Would You Give? CBS Launches Toyota-Sponsored Charity App

What Would You Give CBS Launches Toyota-Sponsored Charity AppWould you like a brand better if it promoted a charity? What would you give?

The market is about ready to find out.

“CBS is pitching marketers on an app that puts a new twist on an old concept: brands ingratiating themselves with viewers through the magic of charity,” according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). “The network will announce the launch of “Viewers to Volunteers,” or V2V, a Toyota-sponsored hub for feel-good short videos. When viewers watch clips on V2V, they accumulate credits that can then be converted into donations for a good cause of their choosing, from the Special Olympics to the Meals on Wheels Association of America.”

While Paul Polizzotto, the founder and president of CBS’s EcoMedia division, says the idea is to let people to give to causes they respect without having to spend cash their own cash, it’s more pointedly this: Toyota will pay you (though the charity gets the check) to watch its commercials.

It could work.

“This is a giving platform,” said Polizzotto. “There are no banner ads and no pre-roll on V2V. This is a very different kind of platform.”

Polizzotto revealed the network is offering V2V in part as a way to convince marketers to give CBS a greater share of their ad budgets. Reportedly, CBS is negotiating with other major advertisers to get on board with the idea.

To date, V2V is slated to launch in four major markets soon: Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and Dallas-Fort Worth. A national launch is set for April.

“Brands have long piggybacked on social causes to burnish their image and demonstrate “corporate social responsibility,” notes WSJ. “And networks in the past have also used cause-based marketing initiatives as a way to differentiate from competitors. NBC in 2009 won business by finding marketers to sponsor health-related segments, for example. The twist with V2V is that it’s the consumer that gets to direct where the donation goes.”

The big challenge? Enticing viewers to download the app and “watch clips at a time when Americans are surrounded by a plethora of media options and distractions.”

But — truth be told — Americans like apps. Also, charities.