Is Cause Marketing Really a Disaster After Disasters? - Joe Waters

Is Cause Marketing Really a Disaster After Disasters? - Joe Waters

Joe Waters blogs on cause marketing at He is the co-author ofCause Marketing for Dummies (July, 2011).


The 3BL Media blog roll is a select list of the most influential, respected, and authoritative voices in corporate social responsibility. Compiled from the 3BL Media staff’s extensive contacts with longtime CSR commentators, these bloggers offer relevant news, opinions, and ideas about all things CSR in one convenient place.

Monday, March 14, 2011 - 1:00pm




No sooner had the ground stopped shaking in Japan last week and people were already shaking their fists calling for a moratorium on cause marketing. It happens after every disaster (the last being after the earthquake in Haiti).

I’m not saying that these calls for pause weren’t uncalled for. I’m just wondering whether cause marketing is really a disaster after disasters, or are people being overly sensitive or maybe even hurting they want to help.

Let’s begin with the definition of cause marketing. You might be familiar with mine: Cause marketing is a partnership between a nonprofit and for-profit for mutual profit. The nonprofit “profits” from the visibility and dollars raised while the for-profit benefits from increased consumer favorability which may drive sales.

I agree with Mom101 that post-disaster is no time for marketing ploys. Of course, this begs the question if there is ever a time for opportunism when it comes to cause marketing and raising money to support good causes.

Next, you have to look at just what type of cause marketing a company might use to help quake victims. Is there one type that might be better than another?

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