Knowledge Leadership Weekly Insights

Given the proliferation of cause-related marketing campaigns (also referred to as “embedded giving”) and the resulting media coverage, it is no surprise that Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey is introducing federal legislation that will require companies to inform consumers how their money is being used, as well as to notify nonprofits that their names are being associated with the campaign.

Corporate Cause Frameworks

It will come as no surprise to corporate executives that “cause” has gone mainstream. We have seen evidence of this recently in our 2007 Cone Cause Evolution Survey, where a shocking 30 percent drop in “word of mouth communications about a product or company after hearing about a company's commitment to social issues” was reported.

Knowledge Leadership Weekly Insights

Environmental news continues to dominate the media and marketplace—just this week, the Wall Street Journal issued its “Consumer’s Guide to Going Green,” the nation’s largest institutional investors sent a letter to Congress urging passage of a national energy bill, Wal-Mart issued its first environmental report and major retailer Kohl’s announced it will pursue LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for every store opening in 2008. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.


While I appreciate and respect the intent of NBC’s “ Green is Universal” program, it has been causing significant backlash as viewers question the eco-authenticity of the commitment.  Most people don’t know that NBC’s parent company, General Electric, is one of the nation’s most committed corporate environmental leaders.  NBC and its affiliates should have considered how to better communicate their own environmental practices and the most credible venues to educate the masses. 


This week Wall Street Journal MarketWatch commentator Herb Greenberg delivered interesting commentary on how corporate philanthropy often reflects that a company has strong cash flow and overall positive financial performance. He likens philanthropy to paying dividends: it sends a positive message to investors not only that the company has cash on hand, but that the company is a good corporate citizen. 


Two decades ago, the solution for alleviating poverty went something like this: food, clothing and shelter. It was about handing out immediate needs. The rhetoric then changed to handing out basic tools for impoverished people to grow food, to fish and to sew. But change agents began to look for even longer term solutions. The food-clothing-and shelter solution then turned into something like this: skills, access and literacy.