Philanthropy as Public Relations: A Critical Perspective on Cause Marketing

Inger L. Stole


This article discusses how cause marketing, a rapidly growing form of corporate philanthropy, has emerged as a public relations tool-of-choice in many business circles. While cause marketing, or the practice of pegging consumer purchases to philanthropic donations, may seem an elegant solution to aid a host of social ills and problems, it raises many of troubling issues. An alarming trend has developed, one in which businesses use cause marketing, instead of applying themselves to solving social problems. Such a practice is merely window dressing, a way to improve public image while detracting attention from a business’s own role in undermining the public safety net.

Full Text: