Charity as advertising
Give and take
Will Pepsi profit by enlisting the public in its philanthropic efforts?
Feb 11th 2010 | NEW YORK | From The Economist print edition
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THE 107m Americans who tuned in to watch the Super Bowl on February 7th did not see any advertisements for Pepsi. Instead of spending $20m on a handful of 30-second *spots*（注1）, the firm decided to give that amount away. Under the slogan “Refresh Everything”, the Pepsi Refresh campaign asks the public to vote online for charities and community groups to receive grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000. A few days before the game its arch-rival, Coca-Cola, was also bitten by a charitable *bug*（注2）. It promised to give $1 to the *Boys & Girls Clubs *（注3）of America every time someone watched its Super Bowl ads on its Facebook page, up to a maximum of $250,000.
Pepsi Refresh is probably the most prominent example so far of “cause marketing”—trying to win customers by ostentatiously doing good. Other recent examples include Chase Community Giving, in which small charities competed to win $5m in donations from JPMorgan Chase, and American Express and *NBC Universal’s*（注4） “Shine A Light” programme, which awarded a grant of $100,000 to a small business chosen through its website.
Marketing people say consumers are increasingly trying to do good as they spend. Research in 2008 by Cone, a brand consultancy, found that 79% of consumers would switch to a brand associated with a good cause, up from 66% in 1993, and that 38% have bought a product associated with a cause, compared with 20% in 1993. Rather than try to make products that can be marketed as ethical in their own right, such as “fair trade” goods, firms are increasingly trying to take an ordinary product and boost its moral credentials with what one marketing guru calls “embedded generosity”. The fad for online competitions to award the *handouts*（注5） also appeals to another trend, so-called* “slacktivism”*（注6）, whereby people are turning to the internet to give their consciences a boost without doing anything more onerous than clicking a mouse a few times.
The strategy seems to be working, judging by the proliferation of articles (such as this one) noting Pepsi’s campaign. JPMorgan Chase claims its campaign was not marketing, but simply an attempt to manage its existing corporate philanthropy more imaginatively. If so, its marketing staff are missing a trick, given that around 2m people signed up to vote on Facebook, many of whom were not existing Chase customers. Moreover, the favourable headlines generated by Chase’s $5m outlay contrasted strikingly with the grudging reaction to Goldman Sachs’s launch around the same time of a $500m campaign to support small businesses.
Although the public likes online popularity contests, they can have unintended consequences. Chase, for example, caused a fuss by excluding a pro-life group and an outfit that wants to legalise cannabis from its competition. Moreover, many firms see virtue in tying themselves to a particular cause. Ten firms, including Gap, Apple and most recently Nike, have deals with (RED), a scheme fronted by Bono, a rock star, to raise money to fight AIDS. It has raised $140m so far, despite fears that, as Susan Smith Ellis, its boss, puts it, “it would be just a big launch on Oprah then never heard of again.” Equally, Pepsi’s efforts to promote healthy lifestyles while selling healthier products and Coca-Cola’s various initiatives to protect water supplies in developing countries are critical to the pair’s future. Refreshing everything, in contrast, is a more nebulous goal.
尽管民众喜欢网上这种投票活动，但却会产生一些意想不到的后果。比如说，大通银行将一家反堕胎团体和一个提倡大麻合法化的团队排除比赛，此事引起轩然大波。另外，许多公司认为从事某项公益活动益处多多。包括Gap，苹果以及新近加入的耐克等十家公司与摇滚歌手波诺发起的（RED）计划联合起来为抗击艾滋病筹集资金。尽管曾有担心，如RED计划首席执行官Susan Smith Ellis所言，“像是在奥普拉节目上宣扬了一番，然后却不了了之”,但目前已筹集1.4亿美元。百事可乐销售更健康的产品以努力提倡健康的生活方式，可口可乐也采取不同行动保护发展中国家的供水系统，这些对于两大公司的未来发展至关重要。与此相比，刷新一些不过是个朦胧的目标。
注1.Spot: A short presentation or commercial on television or radio between major programs
注2.An enthusiasm or obsession: got bitten by the writing bug.
注5.handout - giving money or food or clothing to a needy person
注6.Slacktivism (sometimes slactivism) is a portmanteau formed out of the words slacker and activism. It is a pejorative term that describes taking painless "feel-good" measures in support of an issue or social cause that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. A person that engages in such activity is called a slacktivist.