School of the Arts

IUSB Forum Mara Einstein presents Compassion, Inc.: Charity and the corporate marketing of misfortune

Mara Einstein

Pink ribbons, red dresses and greenwashing have become the marketing tools for selling an increasing number of consumer products from Lee Jeans to Diet Coke to hybrid cars. In an age when commodities need new ways to differentiate themselves and to be heard above the noise of a cluttered media environment, companies have turned to cause-related marketing, corporate social responsibility, and ethical branding as a way to increase profits. They say to consumers “Buy a nano and $10 goes to AIDS in Africa” or “Buy a candle and you can help fund autism research” or “Lose some weight (and pay for our diet program) and you can help feed the homeless and the hungry”.

Seems harmless, yes? It’s not.

Large sums of consumer dollars are not going to help the poor and the less fortunate, despite their best intentions. Because issues like poverty, education and health care are being repackaged in pursuit of corporate profits. Because these companies are using celebrities to market their products and these pop culture icons from Bono to Beyonce become more important than the social causes they are touting. And because caring – real, true caring – becomes secondary to product sales. Promotion-based compassion lulls us into believing that we are being socially responsible when the sad fact is we are abdicating our social responsibilities to the market. This is to the detriment to consumers, causes and companies.

In Compassion,Inc.: Charity and the corporate marketing of misfortune, Mara Einstein will explore of the rise of cause-related marketing, provide an overview of the social responsibility landscape and present cases studies of companies that truly do make the world a better place, and those that just pretend they do.

Tickets for “InfoGlut!” are available through the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts Box Office for $5-$9.  Tickets for students and children are available free of charge.  For more information visit or call 574.520.4203.

IUSB Forum by Mara Einstein
Compassion,Inc.: Charity and the corporate marketing of misfortune
7:30 pm Thursday, March 24
Northside’s Recital Hall
1855 Northside Boulevard, South Bend
Tickets $5-$9 | Free to students/children