South-Western - Management  
The Delicate Task of Showing Corporate Concern for Tsunami Victims
Topic Ethics and Social Responsibility
Key Words Corporate responsibility, advertising, social responsibility
News Story 

Advertisers, agencies, and media companies are seeking ways to show that the companies they represent care about the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia while trying to avoid looking like they are capitalizing on the loss for their own gain.

Cause-related marketing has grown in popularity since 9/11 as a growing number of consumers look to spend their money with companies that they believe are doing some good in the world. However, this type of marketing works best when the consumer believes the company is doing it for altruistic rather than self-promotional reasons.

In 2000, Phillip Morris spent as much or more on an ad campaign promoting the donations they had made to battered women and flood victims, than they did on the actual donations. The ensuing scandal has made many companies aware that it is important not to publicize their efforts to contribute, but just to do it. Companies like the General Electric Company, Coca Cola, and the American Express Company have made millions of dollars of donations of money and supplies but have chosen not to publicize their contributions in any way other than on their websites.

Many companies are involving their employees with programs to match dollars donated by employees to the relief efforts. This type of giving is good for morale because employees feel good about the company they work for.

Other commercials are being removed from the air to show sensitivity to the victims of the tsunami. An American Express ad featuring Laird Hamilton surfing a huge wave has been removed. Dell Computers also removed an ad in which a customer keeps calling the help line asking if someone will be there for him through various difficulties. One scenario references a tsunami.


Define cause-related marketing.


What are some of the benefits to companies who are socially responsible?


Research socially responsible companies in your textbook or on the internet. Describe two companies that position themselves as being socially responsible. Are the companies successful? How much does their socially responsible position contribute to the company's success?

Source "The Delicate Task of Showing Corporate Concern for Tsunami Victims," The New York Times, Jan.4,2005, p.NA.
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