Thursday, September 21, 2000

More companies join in social action

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer contributor

        OXFORD — Don't call it charity. Don't even think of it as philanthropy. Increasingly, for-profit corporations and social action organizations are teaming up to reach mutual goals.

        This phenomenon is called social cause marketing, and it was the topic of a daylong program Wednesday at Miami University. Organized by Miami marketing faculty members Tim Greenlee and Gillian Oakenfull, the effort involved presentations by four corporations, two based in Cincinnati: Procter & Gamble and Cinergy.

        “Giving Back ... Social Cause Marketing in the New Millennium” featured a tangible example of a social cause partnership.

        Prominently displayed was Levi's Denim Wall, a display that publicizes the efforts of Levi Strauss in cooperation with Cause Partners and Pax — The Movement to End Gun Violence. Each signature on the exhibit's denim panels prompts a contribution from the jeans manufacturer to Pax. Miami students and employees who passed the Denim Wall were handed special white markers and asked to add their names.

        Companies are finding their social cause alliances can help them solve problems as well as open new markets.

        “We're learning about the importance of reputation,” said Miami marketing major Adrienne Dolan of Westerville, Ohio. “It's amazing how consumers will boycott the products of a company they don't like.”

        John Winkett of Save the Children Australia said his organization paired up with Procter and Gamble's Australian division. Save the Children's objectives were to raise money and to increase its profile. Procter & Gamble, Mr. Winkett said, wanted to become better known also, tying its corporate name more closely to specific P&G brands in the consumer's mind.

        “But also it's caring for the community,” he added.


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