Cause-Related Marketing: Ethical Practice or

Exploitive Procedure?
GREGORY BAYLIN, PEGGY CUNNINGHAM and
PAMELA CUSHING]
School of Business, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario
Introduction
The growth of cause-related marketing (CRM) has been phenomenal; however,
the question remains whether or not this technique is "strategic" philanthropy or
only exploitive business self-interest. Consideration of whether CRM is ethical,
or can be ethical, has important implications for how this tool is used by market-
ers and not-for-profit organizations and for the establishment of public policy to
regulate it.
Arguments about whether CRM practices are appropriate and ethical should be
considered separately. First, critics claim that CRM reduces traditional corporate
philanthropy. A related question is how firms should fulfil their roles as socially
responsible citizens and whether traditional philanthropy or CRM is the most
appropriate means of meeting such responsibilities. Secondly, critics question
whether widespread use of CRM will result in a transfer of responsibility for
supporting charitable causes from private individuals to business institutions.
Finally, the debate swirls around aspects of CRM itself and the ethical standards
which should be used to judge it. Criticisms include claims that CRM programs
exploit the constituencies of charities, that they turn human suffering into a
commercially saleable commodity, that they pressure charities to modify their
programs so that they are more marketable, that only popular, visible causes
receive corporate support, and that they promote overly simplistic solutions to
complex social problems.
Cause-Related Marketing Defined
Cause-related marketing has been defined as "a co-alignment of marketing strat-
egy and corporate philanthropy" (Varadarajan and Menon 1988, p. 58). More
specifically, typical cause-related marketing campaigns require that the consumer
buy a specific product or service, in return for which the firm makes a donation to
a specific cause.
As is the case with corporate philanthropy, money is not the only form of
donation that firms make through their CRM programs. As a byproduct of the
affiliation they may provide the charitable organization with some form of busi-
ness expertise such as advice on how to design promotional material more
effectively or improve administration of programs; corporate personnel assigned
IS
to help run a fund-raising event; and products or services such as computers,
transport, or fund-raising prizes.
Cause-Related Marketing and Philanthropy
Many critics of CRM claim that CRM reduces traditional philanthropy (Gurin
1987). They point out that CRM provides a more tangible, direct return to firms
and, unlike traditional giving, often places constraints on the charity such as the
purpose for which the donation will be used. Yet many businesses have both
donations programs and CRM programs and the use of CRM does not necessarily
mean that firms will no longer make other charitable gifts.
Two assumptions underlie the fear that CRM will replace traditional philan-
thropy: (i) that traditional philanthropy is more "ethical", and thus, preferable to
CRM, and (ii) that CRM has caused a shift away from philanthropy. We suggest
that neither CRM nor philanthropy are inherently ethical; each has to meet the
criteria of independent ethical standards derived from the realm of moral philos-
ophy.
The second assumption may also be questioned. While there is little doubt that
corporations' attitudes to donations programs are changing, CRM may not be the
cause of this change. Instead, a third factor, such as changing competitive condi-
tions, may be affecting both CRM and philanthropy.
To help clarify this debate, the distinctions between the two forms of corporate
giving must be understood. CRM differs from traditional donations by: (i) the
explicit admission of self-interest on the part of the firm, (ii) the establishment of
formal, business-related objectives for the program, and (iii) measurement of the
results. Both CRM and philanthropy support worthy causes. However, for philan-
thropy, this is the core activity, whereas it is a secondary consideration in CRM.
Philanthropy has been traditionally defined as "a financial, material, or profes-
sional expertise gift undertaken for altruistic reasons and without expectation of
return". (Etherington 1983). CRM, on the other hand, has specific business
objectives tied to its support. Such objectives may include increasing sales of a
specific product or service, improving the image of the corporation or its products
in the eyes of a specific target audience, motivating corporate personnel, or
increasing retailers' awareness of the company's products.
Many CRM critics claim that this expectation of return makes CRM marketing
less "ethical" than traditional philanthropy (Gurin 1987; Schiller 1988; Var-
adarajan and Menon 1988). Some critics cling to the stereotype that business is
inherently "unethical", and that all activities associated with it become tainted as
well. Yet, in each case, they provide no standards against which to test their
claims.
CRM is undoubtedly a commercial activity through which many firms pursue
their primary goals of earning profits, accumulating capital and using resources
16
effectively. Those who believe that capitalist societies provide the best means of
maximizing social welfare see such commercial activities as "good" for society
in and of themselves.
Others insist that traditional philanthropy is preferable to CRM since it is more
"altruistic". However, a closer examination of philanthropy challenges the classic
notion of its purely altruistic character; some form of return was certainly
expected in many cases. Patronage, one of the earliest forms of philanthropy,
clearly benefitted patrons such as the Medicis (Michelangelo) and Esterhazys
(Haydn) who enjoyed both the products of their patronage and enhanced social
status. They also exercised varying degrees of control over their beneficiaries.
(For example, Haydn was forbidden to sell any of his compositions for almost a
decade.) If, as has been suggested, the acid test of pure altruism is whether the
donation is anonymous (Meenaghan 1991), famous donors such as Rockefeller
and Carnegie would never pass the test.
As concentrations of capital shifted from individuals to corporations, and laws
regulating business gifts evolved, capitalist enterprises began to emulate individ-
ual capitalists by making donations to charitable causes:
There is a long tradition in the Western world requiring successful members of
society, individual or corporate, to go beyond paying taxes, to share the benefits of
success with the community. (Taylor 1991, p. 2).
Like individual philanthropy, corporate philanthropy has been viewed as essen-
tially altruistic. Yet more often than not, there was both self-interest and altruism
in traditional corporate philanthropy. As early as the 1880s, firms were involved
in activities considered "philanthropic". For example, some railroad companies
built YMCAs which provided inexpensive lodging and athletic facilities for their
workers. Keirn (1978) has presented empirical evidence based on historical data
that supported the assertion that some corporate philanthropic contributions were
profit motivated. Others suggest that the first 50 years of corporate giving could
be called a "shrewd alignment of corporate and social needs" (Morris and Bieder-
man 1985, p. 152).
Recently, a 1992 Canadian United Way survey found that corporate donations
strategies were aligned with overall corporate business objectives and, in some
cases, with marketing programs (Foeckler 1992). J.H. Cogill, Director of Public
Affairs at Xerox, understood the ties between giving and financial returns: "Phi-
lanthropy is a donation...results are more intangible, but they're just as critical to
business success". (Cogill 1991). Thus, although altruism played a part, at least
some traditional philanthropy had an element of self-interest, and an expectation
of benefit for both parties.
The expectation of mutual benefit is obvious in CRM. Does it also contain an
element of altruism?
17
Society now accepts the fact that strategic giving can benefit society and the firm
simultaneously (Freeman 1992) and that such arrangements are not morally
reprehensible. Firms find CRM to be an effective marketing tool that helps them
achieve their objectives while non-profits can broaden and secure their funding
base. The undoubted benefits of CRM for charities are indicated by the value
charities place on these associations, the growing number of long-term partner-
ships between corporations and causes, and the increasing number of requests for
this type of support pouring in to corporations (Mahood 1992). (One firm now
receives a request for support every six minutes (Young 1992).) Charities such as
the Second Harvest Food Bank see their alliance with business as a win/win
situation. Since they can acquire funds from different areas of corporate activity,
not just from the corporation's charitable foundation, the giving base has
expanded (Scholossberg 1989).
Discussions with corporate participants in CRM and an examination of the
criteria they use to select appropriate causes to support reveals a strong
component of altruism in the way they think about CRM programs. Criteria
include consideration of the amount and type of "good" the charitable institu-
tion provides to the community and the effectiveness with which programs are
administered.
Altruism can also be seen in the time and effort corporate participants shower on
the campaigns sponsored by their firms over and above what is required for
commercial gain. Interviews with corporate participants indicate this is because
of the sense of satisfaction they derive from contributing to "good" works.
In summary, cause-related marketing is clearly partially motivated by altruistic
intentions; however, it should not be paraded as pure altruism. CRM is a market-
ing tool as well as a method of corporate giving, and firms should always be frank
about the dual nature of the promotion. Evidence that corporations understand
that CRM and philanthropy are separate entities is readily available since they are
usually managed separately within corporations and financed from separate cor-
porate budgets.
Strategic Giving
Globally, corporate donations are on the decline or are stagnating. In Canada such
donations have fallen from a high of 1.7 per cent of Average Pre-Tax Profit in
1959, to a dismal 0.6 per cent in 1989 (Taylor 1991),2 while in the United States,
donations have been flat at around $4.4 billion per year between 1985 and 1988
(Miller 1990). Since governments are also cutting funding to charitable agencies
(Mastromartino 1993), innovative ways of capturing contributions are clearly
needed. CRM has the potential not only to renew corporate interest and confi-
dence in donations budgets, it could actually increase the amount of money
available to causes if corporations devote increasing portions of their marketing
budgets to CRM programs.
18
With increasing competitive pressures, corporations are looking for measurable
returns from all funds, including those expended in both donations and CRM. In
the past, many corporations used both CRM and philanthropy to support the
interests and connections of their top management. The "old boys" network and
interlocking directorates often led to reciprocal giving: ''I'll give to your cause if
you give to mine". Competitive pressures have led to more strategic cause
selection (Cunningham, Taylor and Reeder 1993). All expenditures, including
those for social programs, are examined in light of the benefit the corporation will
derive. Thus CRM does not represent a transfer of social responsibility away
from corporations, but rather a shift in giving strategy, driven by adaptation to an
increasingly competitive environment.
Strategic giving involves matching the interests and values of a firm's target
audience (those consumers whose needs a firm can best serve with its products or
services) with the values manifested by a charitable organization. CRM programs
help attract attention to firms or their products, they can build sales and brand
loyalty, increase the attention paid to advertisements, or enhance the image of
corporations and their products and services. For example, American Express,
which positions its credit card as the "entertainment card", supports the arts
programs and cultural events valued by its cardholders. Pepsi-Cola Canada
has chosen the fight against drug abuse for the majority of its donations to
show support for the young consumers who are its target market and for whom
the problem is most acute (Rourke 1992). Firms employ CRM not just because
it promotes social welfare, but also because it is often the most effective and
efficient marketing tool for conveying a specific message or achieving a specific
sales level (Cunningham and Cushing 1994; Cunningham and Taylor 1994).
Firms whose giving has become more strategic want to be able to calculate the
return on their investment (Khoury 1991; O'Hare 1991). They see business/char-
ity partnerships as win/win alliances through which both business and social
objectives can be accomplished.
Individual Perceptions of Philanthropy and Cause-Related Marketing:
Multiple Forms of Giving
The fear that cause-related marketing will result in a transfer of the responsibility
for donations from individuals to business must also be examined. In Canada and
the United States individuals donate three times more to charity than businesses
(Taylor 1991; Sparing a Dime 1991) and there is concern that individuals will feel
relieved of their responsibility to make regular donations after participating in a
CRM program (Gurin 1987; Schiller 1988; Varadarajan and Menon 1988).
This concern was laid to rest by a study of the impact of participating in CRM
campaigns on peoples' attitude towards traditional giving (Ross, Patterson and
Stutts 1992). The test used a promotion involving a variety of Procter &
Gamble products and the Special Olympics. The results indicated that, in fact,
participants in the cause-related marketing campaign were more likely to
19
"support the cause in a traditional manner" after the campaign. (Ross, Patterson,
and Stutts 1992, p. 96).
Furthermore, interviews with industry practitioners have revealed that consumers
see cause-related marketing campaigns as adding value to the products they
purchase, not as an alternative to their normal donations strategies (Cunningham
and Taylor 1994). If consumers have a choice between two similar products, they
will often purchase the cause-associated product because they can achieve extra
value by initiating a donation to a cause. Consumers perceive the donation as
adding extra value to the product, rather than as charitable giving, through a
transaction which takes place in a separate environment from the one in which
they would normally be approached for traditional individual donations.
What is the Social Responsibility of Business and Does CRM Help
Firms Meet This Responsibility?
Establishing that CRM is distinct from philanthropy is not a sufficient basis for
claiming it is "ethical". Ethical judgment requires consideration of the appropri-
ate role and responsibility of business in society.
The principles and values of a society lead to the creation and growth of certain
institutions like the corporation, and also define expectations for their behaviour.
Economists Milton Friedman and Christopher Stone have both addressed the
question of what these expectations should be.
Friedman (1970) believed that, "The social responsibility of business is to
increase its profits", within the confines of the law (p. I). He argued emphatically
that corporations should not get involved in political and social issues. Like Adam
Smith, he believed that the pursuit of individual self-interest with minimal inter-
ference by government would create the greatest benefit for society and argued
that managers are mere agents of the shareholders. As such, it is their duty to
maximize shareholders' or owners' profit. Managers have no right to spend
stockholders' money on social causes since if stockholders wish to support a
cause they are free to do so with their own funds. Duly elected governments and
private individuals (through their voting power and monetary gifts) are the only
ones who should decide what causes and social welfare policies to support.
Friedman believed that firms do not have a mandate to undertake giving programs
that have social implications; thus, he would view both corporate philanthropy
and CRM as inappropriate activities. In Friedman's view, corporations benefit
society through the efficient use of resources and the creation of jobs and profits,
not through interventionist activities.
Stone (1975) challenged Friedman's perspective. He asserted that managers or
directors are more than mere agents of shareholders; they are, in fact, agents of,
and responsible to, a larger community including customers, employees, suppli-
20
ers, and the local community in which the enterprise is located. (The theory of "a
social contract".)
In Stone's view, maximizing profit no longer represents the only corporate goal.
Since corporations receive many benefits from society for which no direct mone-
tary payment is made, e.g., freedom to operate and accumulate capital, infrastruc-
ture, clean air and water, and trained workers, they have a duty or responsibility
to serve the wider interest of society, not just those associated with profit-making
activities. According to this line of thought, both philanthropy and cause-related
marketing campaigns are one way for business to respond to the needs of these
other "stakeholders" in the corporation.
Neither of these positions, however, answers the question of whether CRM (or
any philanthropic program) is "ethical". For such a judgment we must turn to
moral philosophy.
A Moral Philosophy Perspective on the Ethics of Cause-Related
Marketing
Philosophy is concerned with "the critical evaluation of assumptions and argu-
ments" (Raphael 1981, p.l). Taking a philosophical perspective seems particu-
larly relevant to this discussion since many of the critics of CRM make the
assumption that it is less "ethical" or desirable than the forms of corporate
donation that preceded it, e.g., donations and patronage, without establishing or
discussing the criteria they are using to make these criticisms. Philosophical
debate often arises when there is a conflict between new and old practices. The
purpose of such a debate is to develop a rational assurance that an argument has
merit rather than to accept it in an unthinking fashion.
Moral philosophy is concerned with questions of what is right and wrong, the
principles or rules that people use to decide what constitutes ethical behaviour,
what is good and bad conduct, what is of value, and what should and should not
be done (Beauchamp and Bowie 1988; Ferrell and Fraedrich 1991; Raphael
1981). Moral philosophy will not provide clearcut answers to this question of
whether one should favour CRM over traditional philanthropy, only arguments
upon which individuals can base their own decisions.
To help determine whether cause-related marketing is "ethical", we must now
examine the traditional moral philosophical frameworks: teleology and deontology.
Teleology
Derived from the Greek word "telos" meaning goal or end, teleology is a moral
theory based on consequences; if an act produces a desired result it is considered
morally right or "ethical" (Ferrell and Fraedrich 1991).
Within teleology there are two principal branches, egoism and utilitarianism.
They both emphasize consequences; egoism for the individual, and utilitarianism
21
Examples of Cause-Related Marketing
The Body Shop & Environmental Causes
The Body Shop uses cause-related marketing as a tool for the marketing of all of its
products. The sale of each product contributes to a large pool of profit that is set
aside for non-profit causes which promote environmentally and socially sound
practices around the world. A specific example is their introduction of a hair
conditioner which uses Brazil nuts as its base. Money from each sale goes towards
saving Brazilian rain forests through direct funding, as well as indirectly by increas-
ing demand for the fruits of the forest.
Kentucky Fried Chicken & Block Parents' Association
This is an example of cause-related marketing which was used in a specific
marketing campaign. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) agreed to pay for advertising
and a donation, and in return, the Block Parents' Association gave KFC permission
to use their symbol on a national direct mail coupon piece. For every coupon
redeemed, 25 cents was donated to the Association.
for the broader interests of society. Egoists believe that by making choices which
maximize their own self-interest (wealth, pleasure, or happiness) they are behav-
ing in an "ethical" manner. Teleologists recognize that people usually base their
actions on their concepts of self-interest, but they do not ignore the fact that
prudent individuals realize that in order to maximize their own wellbeing, they
must often maximize the wellbeing of others. Egoism has been widely criticized
as a means of moral justification because it offers no means of ranking individual
rights or establishing priorities and, followed to its logical conclusion, it would
cause the social fabric (based on mutual co-operation) to crumble.
Utilitarians, on the other hand, aim for the greatest good for the greatest number
and rely on a systematic comparison of the costs and benefits of an action to all
affected parties. "Actions are right if they produce what is good and remove or
prevent what is bad" (Raphael 1981, p. 34). There are two subcategories of
utilitarianism: (i) rule utilitarianism which states that there are some general rules
which should always be followed regardless of particular situations and (ii) act
utilitarianism which stipulates that the rightness of each individual action must be
examined to determine the best possible consequences.
It is important to make the distinction between ends and means when applying a
utilitarian philosophy. When something is intrinsically good, it is an end in and of
itself; a thing which is valued for the sake of something else it produces is a means
to an end. CRM is not an end that is intrinsically good, it is a means of achieving
an end-in most cases improvement in the wellbeing of certain members of
society (business interests of a particular firm and the beneficiaries of a "worthy
22
cause"). It should be noted that means can produce bad results just as easily as
they can produce good (Raphael 1981). CRM, if implemented without necessary
care, may be exploitive of the very cause it was designed to benefit:
Utilitarianism of all varieties says that right actions are useful actions, good as means;
that rightness is in fact a kind of efficiency, but restricted to efficiency for good ends.
(RaphaeI1981,p.35)
Another question that has to be asked is whose good or wellbeing is to be
maximized. In deciding what ought to be done, utilitarians must consider the
happiness of all who will be affected significantly by the decision (Hunt and
Vitell 1986; Raphael 1981). Thus, two principles underlie utilitarian thinking:
first to produce as much happiness or utility as possible, and second, to distribute
that "good" as widely as possible (Raphael 1981).
Criticisms of Utilitarianism. Although many who embrace utilitarianism assume
that the "good" which is to be maximized is a given and that it is based on a set of
"a priori" values, the "good" is often a matter of individual perspective. The
"good" which is maximized could include: happiness, pleasure, freedom from
pain, truth, virtue, beauty, or peace. Hedonistic utilitarians such as Jeremy Ben-
tham (1748-1832) believed that there was ultimately only one good-pleasure or
happiness-and that right actions are those that maximize this good. However,
what may be a good for one individual may be a "bad" for another. Even if good
is maximized, utilitarianism does not provide guidelines for the "just" distribu-
tion of that good.
("Economic justice" is the term we use for a society's judgment of how economic
"goods" and services should be distributed to provide the greatest benefit for the
greatest number (Beauchamp and Bowie 1988). The modern capitalist state
recognizes that the maximization of individual or corporate wealth does not
necessarily achieve "economic justice" and intervenes to ensure that powerful
institutions such as business are subject to some controls and that social programs
are run for the benefit of all members of society.)
Deontology
Deontology is a principle-based moral philosophy which focuses on the preserva-
tion of individual rights and on the intentions associated with a particular behavi-
our (Ferrell and Fraedrich 1991). Derived from the Greek word meaning
obligation or duty, deontologists believe that human beings perform certain
actions, not because it is to their advantage, but because it is their moral duty to
do so. Deontology often entails the examination of relationships and the obliga-
tions associated with them.
Rather than focusing on the consequences of an action, deontologists believe that
there are actions that are morally right and wrong in and of themselves. Certain
behaviours are inherently right and, for deontologists, the idea of universality is
23
at the heart of morality. Behaviour is "right", not because of its consequences, but
because it complies with certain universal principles such as those associated
with the demands of justice, e.g., due process of law, respecting the rights of
others, or fulfilling promises (Beauchamp and Bowie 1988). Other examples of
absolute rights might include freedom of conscience, freedom of consent, and
freedom of speech.
Deontologists believe that individuals have inherent worth and they are not to be
exploited and treated merely as means to achieve ends. Nonetheless, in everyday
life, people are constantly used in this way. For example, organizations hire
workers for the sole purpose of producing products and home owners hire people
to fix broken appliances. However, individuals are not living tools, they must
enter into such relationships willingly and freely and their needs and ends must be
considered as well as those of the party engaging them (Raphael 1981).
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) extended the belief in universally "right" actions
into a behavioral guide he called the "categorical imperative". Moral commands
are categorical imperatives that are absolute and unconditional. They are binding
upon individuals regardless of the consequences. "Act as if the maxim of thy
action were to become by thy will a universal law of nature" (Kant 1972, p. 229).
Principles are to be followed absolutely and do not depend on the person or the
circumstances in which the decision takes place:
... the categorical imperative does not depend on an "if', the action prescribed is not
simply a means to an end. For instance, the moral injunction "be kind to others" does
not mean "Be kind to others if you want to avoid making enemies of them"; kindness
is prescribed for its own sake and not for the sake of some further (self-interest) end.
(Raphael 1981, p. 55)
Weaknesses ofDeontology. There are many difficulties in developing categorical
imperatives in real-world situations. For example, actions can be evaluated in
such specific terms that they would pass Kant's test but still be considered
immoral (Beauchamp and Bowie 1988). For example, there could be a generally
stated categorical imperative that bribery is wrong; however, an individual could
reason that bribery would be right if it saved a company from bankruptcy and
thereby saved all the workers' jobs.
A second criticism of deontologists notes that there is no suggested means in
deontology for establishing priorities among conflicting duties or principles. For
example, two universal principles might include: the mandate to care for one's
children, and a prohibition against stealing. Is a mother whose children have
nothing to eat then unethical if she steals to feed them? Finally, in real life, it is
essentially impossible for individuals to separate the consequences of their
actions from the principles involved in evaluating the action.
24
Alone, both teleology and deontology have failed to account for the reality of
human decision-making. Research into how people make decisions with ethical
content has demonstrated that individuals use both philosophies to make their
choices (Ferrell, Gresham and Fraedrich 19889; Hunt and Vitell 1986; O'Boyle
1992). Individuals have recognized the need for some overarching guidelines for
morality but at the same time a need to consider the desirability of certain
outcomes, the probabilities that some outcomes will occur, and the relative
importance of the groups the decision will effect.
A Synthesis
Research into how individuals in marketing organizations make ethical decisions
such as those associated with CRM campaigns indicates that they use both
deontological principles and utilitarian considerations (Ferrell, Gresham, and
Fraedrich 1989; Hunt and Vitell 1986; Hunt and Vasquez-Parraga 1993). The
variance in ethical choice often arises due to the relative weights the individual
places on one or the other moral philosophy and it seems clear that a new
philosophical position should be created at the convergence of teleology and
deontology. We shall call it Synthesized Deontology. It is a principle-based moral
philosophy whose absolute rules are synthesized with considerations of the
creation of maximum wellbeing. It puts situational concerns into the ethical
decision-making process by recognizing the decision's consequences. Note, how-
ever, that it does not cross over into teleology where consequences are the
pre-eminent concern. It also allows for a broadening of decision factors to include
"societal rights", while still maintaining the primary focus on individual rights.
Figure I (page 26) illustrates the convergence of the philosophies and presents a
position for Synthesized Deontology. It is this philosophy which will be used to
judge if caused-related marketing is ethical.
A Moral Philosophy Framework For Examining the Critiques ofCRM
Maurice Gurin (1987) has been a prototypical and very vocal critic of CRM
programs. Table I summarizes his arguments and the applicable moral philosophy
as well as the stakeholders groups affected by, or participating in, CRM pro-
grams: not-for-profit organizations, individuals who are customers offirms or the
various constituencies of charitable organizations, and society as a whole.
Deontological concerns with regard to CRM programs centre on the process
through which the program is conceived and implemented, the intentions of all
those involved, and how individuals are treated by the program. Throughout the
process, universal principles, such as whether or not the individual's inherent
worth is recognized and his or her choices, goals and concerns respected, must
apply. Critics of CRM such as Gurin fear that individuals are exploited and used
as a means to an end by CRM. In the worst cases, programs pretend to be, or pose
as CRM efforts, but they benefit no one other than the firm itself. Benetton
(international clothing retailers), for example, ran a series of advertisements using
photographs high in shock value. These included a picture of a dying AIDS victim
25
Figure 1: A Synthesis of Moral Perspectives
Moral Philosophies Positioning Grid
Moral Absolutism
Individual tology Societal
\ Rule Utilitarianism )
oism
Jf "
Egoism
Moral Relativism
Utilitarianism
surrounded by his family, hordes of faceless Romanian refuges trying to board a
ship off the coast of Italy, and the results of a car bombing in South Africa. While
such campaigns may draw attention to the firm, those portrayed in the photo-
graphs or the causes they represented received no benefit and were denied human
dignity.
In other questionable CRM programs, social issues are turned into commodities,
and the beneficiaries of certain programs are dehumanized. Brian Winston of the
School of Communications at Pennsylvania State University criticized the "Live
Aid" concert as an example of such a program (Hutchinson et al. 1993). He cited
the pictures of starving Ethiopians used to promote the concerts as representing
merely a huddled mass of pain which lacked any individuality or human dignity.
Furthermore, hunger became a tangential issue in the Live Aid program. People
who attended, watched or contributed to the concerts were entertained, not
educated about the complex causes of the problems. Actress Sally Struthers, who
was the spokesperson in the Live Aid Commercial stated:
Today begins a new chapter in history. For the first time ever, 1.5 billion people are
coming together to end hunger in Africa and throughout the world.
26
Table 1: Maurice Gurin's (1987) Propositions Concerning
the Advserse Effects of Cause-Related Marketing
Criticism Moral Phlosophy Basis Laval of Analysis
Charitable organizations exploit their Deontology Not-For-Profit I
constituencies and comprise their integrity Charitable
since they must convince corporate sponsors Individuals treated as an Organization
that donors and members can be converted means to an end
into consumers of the firm's products or
services.
Charitable organizations will change their
objectives to meet the needs of sponsoring
corporations
Consumers participating in CRM programs will Deontology Individuals
not examine the merits of the cause
Consumers will only participate in CRM Consumers will loose their
programs and will use this participation to sense of duty,
replace their traditional giving responsibility or obligation
to give to charitable causes
Other consumers will be oblivious to the
program
Utilitarianism
Consumers value CRM as painless giving;
however, they are not donating in the true Less good will result
sense, instead they are making a purchase
Consumers will develop an attitude of "let
business do it" with regard to charitable giving
Corporate decisions about giving based upon Distributive justice Corporations
marketing potential of the cause versus its (Sponsors of
inherent value Funds not distributed Charitable
based on principles of Organizatlonsl
Corporations focus on risk-free, high visibility equality. merit, or need
causes versus high risk, low visibility groups
Corporations will shift all funds into cause-
related marketing efforts totally neglecting
traditional philanthropy
CRM efforts will lead to the commercialization Deontology Societal
and commodification of charities
Charities will be a means
to an end verws an end In
themselves
This message not only exploited Ethiopians' suffering, it suggested a very com-
plex problem could be overcome with a one-time donation or concert ticket
purchase. Needless to say the recipients of the proceeds of the program (the
Ethiopians) were not consulted about how they could be helped or how the funds
raised could be used most effectively.
27
Gurin (1987) also makes a deontological argument. He fears that not-for-profit
organizations will manipulate their members and force them to become custom-
ers of the sponsoring firm but fails to note that such heavy-handedness would
produce resentment rather than product loyalty and, in addition, would give rise
to loud and public criticism. In addition the study conducted by Ross, Patterson
and Stutts seems to minimize, if not deny, Gurin's fear.
Principles of "economic justice" can be used to address questions surrounding
which not-for-profit causes achieve corporate support and how funds raised with
that support are distributed. Gurin expressed the fear that unpopular causes with
low visibility would receive little attention from corporate marketing programs,
seemingly expecting higher standards from CRM programs than he expects from
either corporate or individual philanthropy since low-visibility causes have
always had to struggle to raise funds because the recipients of their benefits are
few in number or low in social power. While it is true that CRM programs are
undertaken with the purpose of sending a corporate message to a specific target
audience, even causes with "low visibility" have a constituency which a particu-
lar firm may wish to target. In addition, experience has shown that difficult and
even unpopular social problems have been addressed by CRM programs. Exam-
ples include programs to raise funds for research into the causes of countless
diseases; shelters for the homeless; support of environmental causes; funding for
the arts; programs to enhance and support education; programs to help prevent
abuse of children, women and the elderly; fund raising to support human rights.
The concern about how funds are distributed can also be addressed using princi-
ples of "economic justice". Although Gurin believed that principles of equality,
need or merit would not govern distribution of CRM funds, many firms who use
CRM programs screen the causes they contribute to with precisely those princi-
ples in mind when assessing how the funds are used and distributed (i.e., pro-
grams are scrutinized by prospective sponsors to see if they address a significant
need, evaluated for the methods by which that need will be satisfied and whether
or not the majority of the funds will be directed towards the needy rather than to
administrative services. (Young 19920.
From a utilitarian perspective CRM is criticized as resulting in a smaller amount
of "good" or "welfare" being created through the use of such programs than was
created by traditional philanthropy. Such is the basis for Gurin's fear that consum-
ers will regard CRM as a means of painless giving and that they will stop
supporting charities in other ways. On the contrary, as discussed earlier, giving
strategies have changed and CRM may be the means through which many
charitable organizations are saved from extinction. Since CRM programs often
increase the amount of publicity a cause receives, such programs may even
increase the total funding of causes and social wellbeing.
28
Guidelines for Ethical Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns
CRM programs are not automatically ethical or unethical. It is suggested, there-
fore, that those planning to use CRM consider both deontological principles and
utilitarian concems when examining their strategies.
Some deontological principles that apply to CRM programs are similar to those
that underlie all ethical advertising and promotion strategies. Practitioners must
have inherent respect for all individuals involved in the process. People must not
be treated as products that can be bought, sold or disposed of once interest in the
cause has waned. Individuals are not to be treated solely as means to an end such
as increasing sales of a product or heightening awareness of a cause.
Both corporations and causes must honestly examine their intentions when they
enter into CRM agreements. Corporate demands that the structure or primary
focus of cause be changed are very much open to question. A case in point arose
when Citibank in the Hands Across America program chose to reduce the focus
on the homeless in their advertisements and instead focused on "people helping
people", which they believed was a more marketable image.
All parties must enter willingly into the agreement with full knowledge of the
workings of the program. Such partnerships should be win/win situations in
which all members benefit in clearly established ways. Recent research has
shown that the most successful alliances between sponsors and not-for-profit
events are long-term in nature (Cunningham and Taylor 1994). Such long-term
commitments are required since short-term campaigns are finite, while most
social problems are not.
Firms using such programs must fulfil their promises by glvmg promised
amounts of money to the cause. Corporations and causes must portray the facts in
a truthful manner and must state clearly any constraints or limitations on the
amounts that will be contributed. Neither party should distort the reality of a
social issue or the complexity of a problem to increase its market appeal. Both
causes and sponsors must avoid over-promising with regard to the benefits of
their programs.
CRM managers should also adopt a utilitarian perspective when designing their
programs. Marketing managers and not-for-profit administrators must ask them-
selves hard questions about whether such a program is the best means of creating
maximum benefits for the most people. Causes seeking corporate support should
also consider how the pursuit of their self-interest affects other not-for-profit
organizations.
Stakeholder identification and consideration of the consequences of the CRM
program on these groups is an important part of a utilitarian assessment of the
ethics of a program (Hunt & Vitell 1986). The interests and freedom of choice of
all significant stakeholders must be respected with regard to how the money
29
raised will be used, how problems are portrayed in the media, and whether
members of a cause will or will not become involved in the program. People are
to be treated justly with regard to the distribution of benefits and principles for
dividing the resources must be clearly articulated, be they equality, merit, or need.
When CRM activities are undertaken, primary stakeholder groups include: (i)
donors (people whose product purchase triggers the donation activity on the part
of the firm), (ii) the firm which conceived and hopes to benefit from the program,
(iii) the charity that organizes and administers programs dedicated to the cause,
and (iv) recipierits ofthe benefits ofthe charity's programs. Secondary stakehold-
ers in the process are: agencies who are often employed to match not-for-profit
organizations with prospective sponsors, media organizations, and the general
public. Deontological principles must be applied to the treatment of all. Managers
of CRM programs must ensure that they are promoting the happiness and welfare
of others while refraining from harm. When considering what programs to
support, they should consider carefully how they and their not-for-profit partners
are defining the "good".
Summary
In order to address the question of the ethics of cause-related marketing, we
addressed the practical, theoretical, and philosophical concerns which surround
it. A picture of cause-related marketing was developed that illustrated both the
profit and altruistic motivations of corporations and non-profit organizations.
Criticisms of CRM based on a move from historical patterns of giving such as
patronage and philanthropy, to the question of what corporations' social respon-
sibilities should be, were discussed. It was demonstrated that the desire for a
return on investment combined with a sense of social responsibility has charac-
terized much traditional corporate philanthropy as well as CRM. Corporate social
responsibility programs have grown and within them, caused-related marketing
has become an important tool. Research was summarized which demonstrated
that cause-related marketing will not have a detrimental impact on the current
pattern and sources of donations in our society. Finally, we focused on framing
the criticisms of CRM using a moral philosophy framework followed by sugges-
tions of how to screen CRM campaigns. We suggest using a synthesis of Deon-
tology and Utilitarianism as a moral perspective from which to ensure that CRM
campaigns are ethical. Cause-related marketing is a growing and complex phe-
nomenon. It has the potential to serve society well; misused it can cause consid-
erable harm.
FOOTNOTES
I. The authors, who contributed equally to the development of this paper, wish to thank the
Social Sciences Research Council which supported part of this work through grant
#410-93-0347 and two reviewers, who wished to remain anonymous, for their helpful
comments on an earlier draft.
30
2. Statistics Canada allows inclusion of corporate cause-marketing donations in the percent-
age of total charitable donations. Actual percentages are not available, however we do
know these donations are still a very small proportion of total corporate giving.
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direct return to firms and. they provide no standards against which to test their claims. motivating corporate personnel. CRM differs from traditional donations by: (i) the explicit admission of self-interest on the part of the firm. Many CRM critics claim that this expectation of return makes CRM marketing less "ethical" than traditional philanthropy (Gurin 1987. on the other hand. Both CRM and philanthropy support worthy causes. Varadarajan and Menon 1988). (ii) the establishment of formal. However. and (ii) that CRM has caused a shift away from philanthropy. accumulating capital and using resources 16 . CRM is undoubtedly a commercial activity through which many firms pursue their primary goals of earning profits. preferable to CRM. They point out that CRM provides a more tangible. transport. whereas it is a secondary consideration in CRM. Philanthropy has been traditionally defined as "a financial. CRM may not be the cause of this change. While there is little doubt that corporations' attitudes to donations programs are changing. Cause-Related Marketing and Philanthropy Many critics of CRM claim that CRM reduces traditional philanthropy (Gurin 1987). Instead. unlike traditional giving. or professional expertise gift undertaken for altruistic reasons and without expectation of return". such as changing competitive conditions. improving the image of the corporation or its products in the eyes of a specific target audience. a third factor. each has to meet the criteria of independent ethical standards derived from the realm of moral philosophy. To help clarify this debate. in each case. Some critics cling to the stereotype that business is inherently "unethical". often places constraints on the charity such as the purpose for which the donation will be used. (Etherington 1983). The second assumption may also be questioned. business-related objectives for the program. and that all activities associated with it become tainted as well. and products or services such as computers. Two assumptions underlie the fear that CRM will replace traditional philanthropy: (i) that traditional philanthropy is more "ethical". may be affecting both CRM and philanthropy. CRM. Yet. the distinctions between the two forms of corporate giving must be understood. and thus. or increasing retailers' awareness of the company's products. Yet many businesses have both donations programs and CRM programs and the use of CRM does not necessarily mean that firms will no longer make other charitable gifts. this is the core activity. for philanthropy. or fund-raising prizes. has specific business objectives tied to its support.to help run a fund-raising event. Schiller 1988. Such objectives may include increasing sales of a specific product or service. material. We suggest that neither CRM nor philanthropy are inherently ethical. and (iii) measurement of the results.

corporate philanthropy has been viewed as essentially altruistic. (For example. As concentrations of capital shifted from individuals to corporations. as has been suggested. a closer examination of philanthropy challenges the classic notion of its purely altruistic character. Recently. (Cogill 1991).. 152). some railroad companies built YMCAs which provided inexpensive lodging and athletic facilities for their workers. However. The expectation of mutual benefit is obvious in CRM.) If. (Taylor 1991. For example. Yet more often than not. firms were involved in activities considered "philanthropic". in some cases. Cogill.. but they're just as critical to business success". a 1992 Canadian United Way survey found that corporate donations strategies were aligned with overall corporate business objectives and. one of the earliest forms of philanthropy.H. the acid test of pure altruism is whether the donation is anonymous (Meenaghan 1991). Like individual philanthropy. Others suggest that the first 50 years of corporate giving could be called a "shrewd alignment of corporate and social needs" (Morris and Biederman 1985. Thus. and laws regulating business gifts evolved. capitalist enterprises began to emulate individual capitalists by making donations to charitable causes: There is a long tradition in the Western world requiring successful members of society. with marketing programs (Foeckler 1992). there was both self-interest and altruism in traditional corporate philanthropy. clearly benefitted patrons such as the Medicis (Michelangelo) and Esterhazys (Haydn) who enjoyed both the products of their patronage and enhanced social status. They also exercised varying degrees of control over their beneficiaries. Haydn was forbidden to sell any of his compositions for almost a decade. Those who believe that capitalist societies provide the best means of maximizing social welfare see such commercial activities as "good" for society in and of themselves. although altruism played a part. Director of Public Affairs at Xerox. 2). understood the ties between giving and financial returns: "Philanthropy is a donation. at least some traditional philanthropy had an element of self-interest. to go beyond paying taxes. J. Does it also contain an element of altruism? 17 .effectively. Patronage. p. individual or corporate. some form of return was certainly expected in many cases. famous donors such as Rockefeller and Carnegie would never pass the test. Others insist that traditional philanthropy is preferable to CRM since it is more "altruistic". Keirn (1978) has presented empirical evidence based on historical data that supported the assertion that some corporate philanthropic contributions were profit motivated. As early as the 1880s. and an expectation of benefit for both parties.results are more intangible. p. to share the benefits of success with the community.

18 . Discussions with corporate participants in CRM and an examination of the criteria they use to select appropriate causes to support reveals a strong component of altruism in the way they think about CRM programs. CRM has the potential not only to renew corporate interest and confidence in donations budgets.6 per cent in 1989 (Taylor 1991). it could actually increase the amount of money available to causes if corporations devote increasing portions of their marketing budgets to CRM programs. Interviews with corporate participants indicate this is because of the sense of satisfaction they derive from contributing to "good" works. and the increasing number of requests for this type of support pouring in to corporations (Mahood 1992). innovative ways of capturing contributions are clearly needed. to a dismal 0. In Canada such donations have fallen from a high of 1. In summary. cause-related marketing is clearly partially motivated by altruistic intentions. the giving base has expanded (Scholossberg 1989). corporate donations are on the decline or are stagnating. Firms find CRM to be an effective marketing tool that helps them achieve their objectives while non-profits can broaden and secure their funding base.7 per cent of Average Pre-Tax Profit in 1959. The undoubted benefits of CRM for charities are indicated by the value charities place on these associations. however. (One firm now receives a request for support every six minutes (Young 1992). donations have been flat at around $4. CRM is a marketing tool as well as a method of corporate giving. Altruism can also be seen in the time and effort corporate participants shower on the campaigns sponsored by their firms over and above what is required for commercial gain.2 while in the United States. the growing number of long-term partnerships between corporations and causes. Evidence that corporations understand that CRM and philanthropy are separate entities is readily available since they are usually managed separately within corporations and financed from separate corporate budgets. and firms should always be frank about the dual nature of the promotion. Since they can acquire funds from different areas of corporate activity. Criteria include consideration of the amount and type of "good" the charitable institution provides to the community and the effectiveness with which programs are administered. Since governments are also cutting funding to charitable agencies (Mastromartino 1993). it should not be paraded as pure altruism.Society now accepts the fact that strategic giving can benefit society and the firm simultaneously (Freeman 1992) and that such arrangements are not morally reprehensible. Strategic Giving Globally. not just from the corporation's charitable foundation.) Charities such as the Second Harvest Food Bank see their alliance with business as a win/win situation.4 billion per year between 1985 and 1988 (Miller 1990).

Cunningham and Taylor 1994). in fact. but rather a shift in giving strategy. Firms employ CRM not just because it promotes social welfare. which positions its credit card as the "entertainment card". Competitive pressures have led to more strategic cause selection (Cunningham. or enhance the image of corporations and their products and services. Varadarajan and Menon 1988). Sparing a Dime 1991) and there is concern that individuals will feel relieved of their responsibility to make regular donations after participating in a CRM program (Gurin 1987. but also because it is often the most effective and efficient marketing tool for conveying a specific message or achieving a specific sales level (Cunningham and Cushing 1994. CRM programs help attract attention to firms or their products. Thus CRM does not represent a transfer of social responsibility away from corporations. In the past. This concern was laid to rest by a study of the impact of participating in CRM campaigns on peoples' attitude towards traditional giving (Ross. O'Hare 1991). they can build sales and brand loyalty. supports the arts programs and cultural events valued by its cardholders. The results indicated that. increase the attention paid to advertisements. The "old boys" network and interlocking directorates often led to reciprocal giving: ''I'll give to your cause if you give to mine". They see business/charity partnerships as win/win alliances through which both business and social objectives can be accomplished. American Express. including those for social programs. many corporations used both CRM and philanthropy to support the interests and connections of their top management. corporations are looking for measurable returns from all funds. Individual Perceptions of Philanthropy and Cause-Related Marketing: Multiple Forms of Giving The fear that cause-related marketing will result in a transfer of the responsibility for donations from individuals to business must also be examined. Strategic giving involves matching the interests and values of a firm's target audience (those consumers whose needs a firm can best serve with its products or services) with the values manifested by a charitable organization. Patterson and Stutts 1992). Firms whose giving has become more strategic want to be able to calculate the return on their investment (Khoury 1991.With increasing competitive pressures. All expenditures. Pepsi-Cola Canada has chosen the fight against drug abuse for the majority of its donations to show support for the young consumers who are its target market and for whom the problem is most acute (Rourke 1992). Taylor and Reeder 1993). For example. including those expended in both donations and CRM. participants in the cause-related marketing campaign were more likely to 19 . driven by adaptation to an increasingly competitive environment. Schiller 1988. In Canada and the United States individuals donate three times more to charity than businesses (Taylor 1991. The test used a promotion involving a variety of Procter & Gamble products and the Special Olympics. are examined in light of the benefit the corporation will derive.

in fact. 96). it is their duty to maximize shareholders' or owners' profit. As such. suppli- 20 . Like Adam Smith. Ethical judgment requires consideration of the appropriate role and responsibility of business in society. they are. he would view both corporate philanthropy and CRM as inappropriate activities. and also define expectations for their behaviour. I). If consumers have a choice between two similar products. He argued emphatically that corporations should not get involved in political and social issues. Consumers perceive the donation as adding extra value to the product. rather than as charitable giving. He asserted that managers or directors are more than mere agents of shareholders. Managers have no right to spend stockholders' money on social causes since if stockholders wish to support a cause they are free to do so with their own funds. he believed that the pursuit of individual self-interest with minimal interference by government would create the greatest benefit for society and argued that managers are mere agents of the shareholders. p. through a transaction which takes place in a separate environment from the one in which they would normally be approached for traditional individual donations. Patterson. Friedman believed that firms do not have a mandate to undertake giving programs that have social implications. The principles and values of a society lead to the creation and growth of certain institutions like the corporation. "The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits". agents of. What is the Social Responsibility of Business and Does CRM Help Firms Meet This Responsibility? Establishing that CRM is distinct from philanthropy is not a sufficient basis for claiming it is "ethical". In Friedman's view. a larger community including customers. Friedman (1970) believed that. Economists Milton Friedman and Christopher Stone have both addressed the question of what these expectations should be. corporations benefit society through the efficient use of resources and the creation of jobs and profits."support the cause in a traditional manner" after the campaign. not through interventionist activities. they will often purchase the cause-associated product because they can achieve extra value by initiating a donation to a cause. Furthermore. and Stutts 1992. (Ross. not as an alternative to their normal donations strategies (Cunningham and Taylor 1994). Stone (1975) challenged Friedman's perspective. and responsible to. Duly elected governments and private individuals (through their voting power and monetary gifts) are the only ones who should decide what causes and social welfare policies to support. within the confines of the law (p. thus. employees. interviews with industry practitioners have revealed that consumers see cause-related marketing campaigns as adding value to the products they purchase.

e. without establishing or discussing the criteria they are using to make these criticisms.l). Teleology Derived from the Greek word "telos" meaning goal or end. Moral philosophy will not provide clearcut answers to this question of whether one should favour CRM over traditional philanthropy. A Moral Philosophy Perspective on the Ethics of Cause-Related Marketing Philosophy is concerned with "the critical evaluation of assumptions and arguments" (Raphael 1981. e. egoism for the individual. and what should and should not be done (Beauchamp and Bowie 1988. and utilitarianism 21 . what is good and bad conduct. According to this line of thought. For such a judgment we must turn to moral philosophy. Ferrell and Fraedrich 1991. they have a duty or responsibility to serve the wider interest of society. Since corporations receive many benefits from society for which no direct monetary payment is made. the principles or rules that people use to decide what constitutes ethical behaviour.) In Stone's view.g. clean air and water. (The theory of "a social contract". and the local community in which the enterprise is located.g. p. however. answers the question of whether CRM (or any philanthropic program) is "ethical". Moral philosophy is concerned with questions of what is right and wrong. The purpose of such a debate is to develop a rational assurance that an argument has merit rather than to accept it in an unthinking fashion.. what is of value.. we must now examine the traditional moral philosophical frameworks: teleology and deontology. infrastructure. To help determine whether cause-related marketing is "ethical". only arguments upon which individuals can base their own decisions. egoism and utilitarianism. and trained workers.ers. teleology is a moral theory based on consequences. if an act produces a desired result it is considered morally right or "ethical" (Ferrell and Fraedrich 1991). Philosophical debate often arises when there is a conflict between new and old practices. Within teleology there are two principal branches. Raphael 1981). Neither of these positions. freedom to operate and accumulate capital. Taking a philosophical perspective seems particularly relevant to this discussion since many of the critics of CRM make the assumption that it is less "ethical" or desirable than the forms of corporate donation that preceded it. not just those associated with profit-making activities. donations and patronage. They both emphasize consequences. both philanthropy and cause-related marketing campaigns are one way for business to respond to the needs of these other "stakeholders" in the corporation. maximizing profit no longer represents the only corporate goal.

25 cents was donated to the Association. as well as indirectly by increasing demand for the fruits of the forest. A specific example is their introduction of a hair conditioner which uses Brazil nuts as its base. or happiness) they are behaving in an "ethical" manner. The sale of each product contributes to a large pool of profit that is set aside for non-profit causes which promote environmentally and socially sound practices around the world. the Block Parents' Association gave KFC permission to use their symbol on a national direct mail coupon piece. but they do not ignore the fact that prudent individuals realize that in order to maximize their own wellbeing. Teleologists recognize that people usually base their actions on their concepts of self-interest. followed to its logical conclusion. a thing which is valued for the sake of something else it produces is a means to an end. it would cause the social fabric (based on mutual co-operation) to crumble. Utilitarians. Money from each sale goes towards saving Brazilian rain forests through direct funding. it is an end in and of itself. CRM is not an end that is intrinsically good. 34). they must often maximize the wellbeing of others. For every coupon redeemed.Examples of Cause-Related Marketing The Body Shop & Environmental Causes The Body Shop uses cause-related marketing as a tool for the marketing of all of its products. p. Egoists believe that by making choices which maximize their own self-interest (wealth. and in return. aim for the greatest good for the greatest number and rely on a systematic comparison of the costs and benefits of an action to all affected parties. for the broader interests of society. There are two subcategories of utilitarianism: (i) rule utilitarianism which states that there are some general rules which should always be followed regardless of particular situations and (ii) act utilitarianism which stipulates that the rightness of each individual action must be examined to determine the best possible consequences. pleasure. It is important to make the distinction between ends and means when applying a utilitarian philosophy. Egoism has been widely criticized as a means of moral justification because it offers no means of ranking individual rights or establishing priorities and. it is a means of achieving an end-in most cases improvement in the wellbeing of certain members of society (business interests of a particular firm and the beneficiaries of a "worthy 22 . "Actions are right if they produce what is good and remove or prevent what is bad" (Raphael 1981. When something is intrinsically good. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) agreed to pay for advertising and a donation. on the other hand. Kentucky Fried Chicken & Block Parents' Association This is an example of cause-related marketing which was used in a specific marketing campaign.

Thus. for deontologists. truth. to distribute that "good" as widely as possible (Raphael 1981). Raphael 1981). that rightness is in fact a kind of efficiency. freedom from pain. two principles underlie utilitarian thinking: first to produce as much happiness or utility as possible. CRM.p. good as means. The modern capitalist state recognizes that the maximization of individual or corporate wealth does not necessarily achieve "economic justice" and intervenes to ensure that powerful institutions such as business are subject to some controls and that social programs are run for the benefit of all members of society. utilitarianism does not provide guidelines for the "just" distribution of that good. Derived from the Greek word meaning obligation or duty. beauty. not because it is to their advantage. virtue. The "good" which is maximized could include: happiness. Criticisms of Utilitarianism. what may be a good for one individual may be a "bad" for another. but restricted to efficiency for good ends. It should be noted that means can produce bad results just as easily as they can produce good (Raphael 1981). Although many who embrace utilitarianism assume that the "good" which is to be maximized is a given and that it is based on a set of "a priori" values.35) Another question that has to be asked is whose good or wellbeing is to be maximized. Certain behaviours are inherently right and. pleasure. Even if good is maximized. However. may be exploitive of the very cause it was designed to benefit: Utilitarianism of all varieties says that right actions are useful actions. the idea of universality is 23 . the "good" is often a matter of individual perspective. deontologists believe that human beings perform certain actions. Hedonistic utilitarians such as Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) believed that there was ultimately only one good-pleasure or happiness-and that right actions are those that maximize this good.cause"). if implemented without necessary care. utilitarians must consider the happiness of all who will be affected significantly by the decision (Hunt and Vitell 1986. (RaphaeI1981. or peace.) Deontology Deontology is a principle-based moral philosophy which focuses on the preservation of individual rights and on the intentions associated with a particular behaviour (Ferrell and Fraedrich 1991). deontologists believe that there are actions that are morally right and wrong in and of themselves. In deciding what ought to be done. and second. Rather than focusing on the consequences of an action. but because it is their moral duty to do so. ("Economic justice" is the term we use for a society's judgment of how economic "goods" and services should be distributed to provide the greatest benefit for the greatest number (Beauchamp and Bowie 1988). Deontology often entails the examination of relationships and the obligations associated with them.

Other examples of absolute rights might include freedom of conscience. A second criticism of deontologists notes that there is no suggested means in deontology for establishing priorities among conflicting duties or principles. the categorical imperative does not depend on an "if'. an individual could reason that bribery would be right if it saved a company from bankruptcy and thereby saved all the workers' jobs. however. kindness is prescribed for its own sake and not for the sake of some further (self-interest) end. two universal principles might include: the mandate to care for one's children. 229). Moral commands are categorical imperatives that are absolute and unconditional. Is a mother whose children have nothing to eat then unethical if she steals to feed them? Finally. However. freedom of consent. there could be a generally stated categorical imperative that bribery is wrong. There are many difficulties in developing categorical imperatives in real-world situations. not because of its consequences... but because it complies with certain universal principles such as those associated with the demands of justice. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) extended the belief in universally "right" actions into a behavioral guide he called the "categorical imperative". 24 . they must enter into such relationships willingly and freely and their needs and ends must be considered as well as those of the party engaging them (Raphael 1981). They are binding upon individuals regardless of the consequences. individuals are not living tools. e. in real life. (Raphael 1981. due process of law.. For example. Principles are to be followed absolutely and do not depend on the person or the circumstances in which the decision takes place: . in everyday life. respecting the rights of others. and a prohibition against stealing. "Act as if the maxim of thy action were to become by thy will a universal law of nature" (Kant 1972. Behaviour is "right". Deontologists believe that individuals have inherent worth and they are not to be exploited and treated merely as means to achieve ends. and freedom of speech. p. people are constantly used in this way. For example. p. it is essentially impossible for individuals to separate the consequences of their actions from the principles involved in evaluating the action. organizations hire workers for the sole purpose of producing products and home owners hire people to fix broken appliances.g. For instance. the moral injunction "be kind to others" does not mean "Be kind to others if you want to avoid making enemies of them". or fulfilling promises (Beauchamp and Bowie 1988). actions can be evaluated in such specific terms that they would pass Kant's test but still be considered immoral (Beauchamp and Bowie 1988). For example.at the heart of morality. 55) Weaknesses ofDeontology. the action prescribed is not simply a means to an end. For example. Nonetheless.

These included a picture of a dying AIDS victim 25 . Note. ran a series of advertisements using photographs high in shock value. and society as a whole. however. Hunt and Vitell 1986. Deontological concerns with regard to CRM programs centre on the process through which the program is conceived and implemented. Individuals have recognized the need for some overarching guidelines for morality but at the same time a need to consider the desirability of certain outcomes. O'Boyle 1992). individuals who are customers offirms or the various constituencies of charitable organizations. We shall call it Synthesized Deontology. while still maintaining the primary focus on individual rights. Throughout the process.Alone. both teleology and deontology have failed to account for the reality of human decision-making. and Fraedrich 1989. or participating in. the probabilities that some outcomes will occur. but they benefit no one other than the firm itself. Hunt and Vasquez-Parraga 1993). programs pretend to be. and the relative importance of the groups the decision will effect. the intentions of all those involved. The variance in ethical choice often arises due to the relative weights the individual places on one or the other moral philosophy and it seems clear that a new philosophical position should be created at the convergence of teleology and deontology. A Moral Philosophy Framework For Examining the Critiques ofCRM Maurice Gurin (1987) has been a prototypical and very vocal critic of CRM programs. universal principles. It is a principle-based moral philosophy whose absolute rules are synthesized with considerations of the creation of maximum wellbeing. and how individuals are treated by the program. A Synthesis Research into how individuals in marketing organizations make ethical decisions such as those associated with CRM campaigns indicates that they use both deontological principles and utilitarian considerations (Ferrell. CRM programs: not-for-profit organizations. goals and concerns respected. must apply. It is this philosophy which will be used to judge if caused-related marketing is ethical. It also allows for a broadening of decision factors to include "societal rights". It puts situational concerns into the ethical decision-making process by recognizing the decision's consequences. Figure I (page 26) illustrates the convergence of the philosophies and presents a position for Synthesized Deontology. that it does not cross over into teleology where consequences are the pre-eminent concern. Hunt and Vitell 1986. such as whether or not the individual's inherent worth is recognized and his or her choices. Gresham and Fraedrich 19889. Research into how people make decisions with ethical content has demonstrated that individuals use both philosophies to make their choices (Ferrell. Gresham. Table I summarizes his arguments and the applicable moral philosophy as well as the stakeholders groups affected by. In the worst cases. or pose as CRM efforts. for example. Critics of CRM such as Gurin fear that individuals are exploited and used as a means to an end by CRM. Benetton (international clothing retailers).

those portrayed in the photographs or the causes they represented received no benefit and were denied human dignity. social issues are turned into commodities. Furthermore. In other questionable CRM programs. not educated about the complex causes of the problems. For the first time ever. and the results of a car bombing in South Africa. 1. He cited the pictures of starving Ethiopians used to promote the concerts as representing merely a huddled mass of pain which lacked any individuality or human dignity. Brian Winston of the School of Communications at Pennsylvania State University criticized the "Live Aid" concert as an example of such a program (Hutchinson et al. While such campaigns may draw attention to the firm. hordes of faceless Romanian refuges trying to board a ship off the coast of Italy. watched or contributed to the concerts were entertained. 26 .5 billion people are coming together to end hunger in Africa and throughout the world. who was the spokesperson in the Live Aid Commercial stated: Today begins a new chapter in history. People who attended. and the beneficiaries of certain programs are dehumanized.Figure 1: A Synthesis of Moral Perspectives Moral Philosophies Positioning Grid Moral Absolutism Individual ~hesizedDe \ tology ~ ) Societal Rule Utilitarianism ~lighlenedE oism ~ Egoism Jf Moral Relativism " Utilitarianism surrounded by his family. hunger became a tangential issue in the Live Aid program. 1993). Actress Sally Struthers.

responsibility or obligation to give to charitable causes This message not only exploited Ethiopians' suffering. it suggested a very complex problem could be overcome with a one-time donation or concert ticket purchase. they are not donating in the true sense.Table 1: Maurice Gurin's (1987) Propositions Concerning the Advserse Effects of Cause-Related Marketing Criticism Charitable organizations exploit their constituencies and comprise their integrity since they must convince corporate sponsors that donors and members can be converted into consumers of the firm's products or services. 27 . or need Corporations (Sponsors of Charitable Organizatlonsl Less good will result Deontology Individuals Moral Phlosophy Basis Deontology Individuals treated as an means to an end Laval of Analysis Not-For-Profit I Charitable Organization Consumers will loose their sense of duty. however. instead they are making a purchase Consumers will develop an attitude of "let business do it" with regard to charitable giving Corporate decisions about giving based upon marketing potential of the cause versus its inherent value Corporations focus on risk-free. merit. high visibility causes versus high risk. low visibility groups Corporations will shift all funds into causerelated marketing efforts totally neglecting traditional philanthropy CRM efforts will lead to the commercialization and commodification of charities Deontology Charities will be a means to an end verws an end In themselves Societal Distributive justice Funds not distributed based on principles of equality. Needless to say the recipients of the proceeds of the program (the Ethiopians) were not consulted about how they could be helped or how the funds raised could be used most effectively. Charitable organizations will change their objectives to meet the needs of sponsoring corporations Consumers participating in CRM programs will not examine the merits of the cause Consumers will only participate in CRM programs and will use this participation to replace their traditional giving Other consumers will be oblivious to the program Utilitarianism Consumers value CRM as painless giving.

Examples include programs to raise funds for research into the causes of countless diseases. Gurin's fear. Patterson and Stutts seems to minimize. Although Gurin believed that principles of equality. Since CRM programs often increase the amount of publicity a cause receives. From a utilitarian perspective CRM is criticized as resulting in a smaller amount of "good" or "welfare" being created through the use of such programs than was created by traditional philanthropy. Gurin expressed the fear that unpopular causes with low visibility would receive little attention from corporate marketing programs. if not deny. even causes with "low visibility" have a constituency which a particular firm may wish to target. experience has shown that difficult and even unpopular social problems have been addressed by CRM programs. Principles of "economic justice" can be used to address questions surrounding which not-for-profit causes achieve corporate support and how funds raised with that support are distributed. (Young 19920. In addition the study conducted by Ross. programs to enhance and support education. The concern about how funds are distributed can also be addressed using principles of "economic justice". need or merit would not govern distribution of CRM funds. While it is true that CRM programs are undertaken with the purpose of sending a corporate message to a specific target audience. fund raising to support human rights. many firms who use CRM programs screen the causes they contribute to with precisely those principles in mind when assessing how the funds are used and distributed (i. evaluated for the methods by which that need will be satisfied and whether or not the majority of the funds will be directed towards the needy rather than to administrative services. He fears that not-for-profit organizations will manipulate their members and force them to become customers of the sponsoring firm but fails to note that such heavy-handedness would produce resentment rather than product loyalty and. in addition. 28 . shelters for the homeless. giving strategies have changed and CRM may be the means through which many charitable organizations are saved from extinction. as discussed earlier. programs to help prevent abuse of children. On the contrary. would give rise to loud and public criticism. In addition. women and the elderly. support of environmental causes. programs are scrutinized by prospective sponsors to see if they address a significant need. Such is the basis for Gurin's fear that consumers will regard CRM as a means of painless giving and that they will stop supporting charities in other ways. such programs may even increase the total funding of causes and social wellbeing. funding for the arts. seemingly expecting higher standards from CRM programs than he expects from either corporate or individual philanthropy since low-visibility causes have always had to struggle to raise funds because the recipients of their benefits are few in number or low in social power..e.Gurin (1987) also makes a deontological argument.

Both causes and sponsors must avoid over-promising with regard to the benefits of their programs. that those planning to use CRM consider both deontological principles and utilitarian concems when examining their strategies. Individuals are not to be treated solely as means to an end such as increasing sales of a product or heightening awareness of a cause. The interests and freedom of choice of all significant stakeholders must be respected with regard to how the money 29 . which they believed was a more marketable image. therefore.Guidelines for Ethical Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns CRM programs are not automatically ethical or unethical. Some deontological principles that apply to CRM programs are similar to those that underlie all ethical advertising and promotion strategies. Corporate demands that the structure or primary focus of cause be changed are very much open to question. A case in point arose when Citibank in the Hands Across America program chose to reduce the focus on the homeless in their advertisements and instead focused on "people helping people". It is suggested. Neither party should distort the reality of a social issue or the complexity of a problem to increase its market appeal. Marketing managers and not-for-profit administrators must ask themselves hard questions about whether such a program is the best means of creating maximum benefits for the most people. sold or disposed of once interest in the cause has waned. while most social problems are not. Corporations and causes must portray the facts in a truthful manner and must state clearly any constraints or limitations on the amounts that will be contributed. Stakeholder identification and consideration of the consequences of the CRM program on these groups is an important part of a utilitarian assessment of the ethics of a program (Hunt & Vitell 1986). Recent research has shown that the most successful alliances between sponsors and not-for-profit events are long-term in nature (Cunningham and Taylor 1994). All parties must enter willingly into the agreement with full knowledge of the workings of the program. Practitioners must have inherent respect for all individuals involved in the process. CRM managers should also adopt a utilitarian perspective when designing their programs. Firms using such programs must fulfil their promises by glvmg promised amounts of money to the cause. Such partnerships should be win/win situations in which all members benefit in clearly established ways. Such long-term commitments are required since short-term campaigns are finite. Causes seeking corporate support should also consider how the pursuit of their self-interest affects other not-for-profit organizations. Both corporations and causes must honestly examine their intentions when they enter into CRM agreements. People must not be treated as products that can be bought.

FOOTNOTES I. primary stakeholder groups include: (i) donors (people whose product purchase triggers the donation activity on the part of the firm). merit. Cause-related marketing is a growing and complex phenomenon. A picture of cause-related marketing was developed that illustrated both the profit and altruistic motivations of corporations and non-profit organizations. we focused on framing the criticisms of CRM using a moral philosophy framework followed by suggestions of how to screen CRM campaigns. 30 . who contributed equally to the development of this paper. Research was summarized which demonstrated that cause-related marketing will not have a detrimental impact on the current pattern and sources of donations in our society. Managers of CRM programs must ensure that they are promoting the happiness and welfare of others while refraining from harm. and the general public. It has the potential to serve society well. When considering what programs to support. Finally. People are to be treated justly with regard to the distribution of benefits and principles for dividing the resources must be clearly articulated. or need. Deontological principles must be applied to the treatment of all. The authors. caused-related marketing has become an important tool. Secondary stakeholders in the process are: agencies who are often employed to match not-for-profit organizations with prospective sponsors. When CRM activities are undertaken.raised will be used. (ii) the firm which conceived and hopes to benefit from the program. media organizations. Corporate social responsibility programs have grown and within them. theoretical. we addressed the practical. how problems are portrayed in the media. who wished to remain anonymous. It was demonstrated that the desire for a return on investment combined with a sense of social responsibility has characterized much traditional corporate philanthropy as well as CRM. (iii) the charity that organizes and administers programs dedicated to the cause. Summary In order to address the question of the ethics of cause-related marketing. We suggest using a synthesis of Deontology and Utilitarianism as a moral perspective from which to ensure that CRM campaigns are ethical. and (iv) recipierits ofthe benefits ofthe charity's programs. misused it can cause considerable harm. they should consider carefully how they and their not-for-profit partners are defining the "good". and whether members of a cause will or will not become involved in the program. to the question of what corporations' social responsibilities should be. and philosophical concerns which surround it. be they equality. for their helpful comments on an earlier draft. wish to thank the Social Sciences Research Council which supported part of this work through grant #410-93-0347 and two reviewers. Criticisms of CRM based on a move from historical patterns of giving such as patronage and philanthropy. were discussed.

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