Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Compassion, Inc.

Compassion, Inc.: How Corporate America Blurs the Line between What We Buy, Who We Are, and Those We Help

Mara Einstein
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 240
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Compassion, Inc.
    Book Description:

    Pink ribbons, red dresses, and greenwashing—American corporations are scrambling to tug at consumer heartstrings through cause-related marketing, corporate social responsibility, and ethical branding, tactics that can increase sales by as much as 74%. Harmless? Marketing insider Mara Einstein demonstrates in this penetrating analysis why the answer is a resounding “No!” In Compassion, Inc. she outlines how cause-related marketing desensitizes the public by putting a pleasant face on complex problems. She takes us through the unseen ways in which large sums of consumer dollars go into corporate coffers rather than helping the less fortunate. She also discusses companies that truly do make the world a better place, and those that just pretend to.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95163-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  4. 1 Value Brands . . . They Ain’t What They Used to Be
    (pp. 1-25)

    Do you have a yellow Livestrong bracelet on your wrist? Okay, probably not on your wrist anymore, but maybe hidden in a drawer somewhere? And maybe it’s not a yellow bracelet. Maybe it’s a pink one for breast cancer or a red one for AIDS. You probably donated a buck or two to get it.¹

    Acquiring something in return for a donation has been a staple of philanthropic giving for decades, be it personalized address labels or a red ribbon with a safety pin. But in 2004, Livestrong bracelets changed the charitable fund-raising game in two fundamental ways. First, Livestrong...

  5. 2 How Corporations Co-opt Caring: Strategic Philanthropy, Cause-Related Marketing, and Corporate Social Responsibility
    (pp. 26-68)

    Beyoncé appears on the TV screen in a beautifully shot black-and-white commercial, reminiscent of 1980s Bruce Weber/Calvin Klein advertising. First, we see a pair of five-inch black stilettos as she walks into frame. Then, the camera pans up her body as she kneels on an empty sound stage with a stark white backdrop. Dressed in a plain white T-shirt and jeans, her hair blown-dry straight, she speaks directly and earnestly into the camera.

    Beyoncé is not announcing her latest concert or her newest album. She is there to demonstrate her commitment to feeding the hungry—not through her own Survivor...

  6. 3 The Birth of the Hypercharity and the Rise of “Charitainment”
    (pp. 69-100)

    As you sipped your grande latte in Starbucks, did you notice an ad with red parentheses surrounding a trio of drinks? If you did, there’s a good chance you have no idea that the ubiquitous coffee beanery is part of a coordinated, multicorporation branding effort whose goal is to upsell you to a more expensive beverage so that a few pennies from the sale will go to charity. The marketing effort signified by those parentheses is (RED), a branding campaign that marries upscale consumer products—everything from Starbucks coffee to iPods to American Express cards—with a charitable organization, the...

  7. 4 The Consequences of Co-opting Compassion
    (pp. 101-129)

    Thus far we have looked at specific consequences of attaching a charity to a product (or a charity to lots of products): (RED) isn’t raising as much money for charity as consumers might suspect; breast cancer is ingrained in our minds as the leading killer of women, which is not the case; and any number of consumer products have attached themselves to causes with little or no money actually going to the charity.

    We have not yet, however, examined the cumulative social impact of connecting causes to market forces. The consequences are considerable: (1) less funding for charities, and therefore...

  8. 5 Shopping Is Not Philanthropy. Period.
    (pp. 130-147)

    When I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, I’d visit my Great Aunt Rose on the upper west side of Manhattan. She was your typical New York grandmotherly type—she cooked five different meals when my family came over so that everyone would have their favorite food. She constantly fawned over my sisters and me, saying, “I don’t understand why there isn’t a line of men outside your door!” And she always slipped a little cash or a check into your pocket before you walked out the door. There was one way in which Aunt Rose was very...

  9. 6 Can Companies Make a Difference?
    (pp. 148-172)

    Flying into Colorado, I kept wondering what to expect. I’d known about LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) for a long time, but this was my first trip to Boulder for its annual gabfest.¹ Was this just another New Age movement? Did LOHASians walk the walk or just pay lip service to social innovation? After years of researching and analyzing all that business had been doing—much of it, unfortunately, ineffective and self-serving—I was beginning to lose hope. Happily and fairly quickly, my fears were assuaged. I began to see real innovation, real commitment. I even dared to feel...

  10. 7 We Are Not Consumers
    (pp. 173-188)

    Call me mother, daughter, teacher, friend, sister, or citizen. What I will not be called is consumer, and neither should you be. If we continue to name—or worse yet define—ourselves by what we purchase, we have little chance, if any, of getting out of the buy-use-dispose, buy-use-dispose cycle of consumer behavior. Thinking of ourselves as “consumers” is a vestige of the age of mass marketing and makes no more sense today than expecting the entire family to sit down together at 8 p.m. and watch an episode ofThe Brady Bunch.

    Thankfully, there are inklings that marketers have...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 189-214)
  12. Index
    (pp. 215-222)