Charitable Donation or Paying for Advertisement?

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By: Ryan Valentine @Valentine408

Last class, when watching the Ellen Degeneres show we saw Target make a large contribution of one hundred thousand dollars to a school for needy children. A huge and useful donation sure, but was it out of the kindness of their heart? Or was it really part of a bigger picture involving a complicated and well executed IMC plan? While I’d like to believe that Target has the purest intentions and loves feeding the needy, I couldn’t help but notice how much they put their brand in your face in their Ellen segment. Just with that one donation they engaged in selective demand stimulation, corporate advertising, delayed response promotion, and gained a nice group of customers that are likely to be life-long brand loyalists.

I love the fact that Target contributed to this cause and I really do think its great, I just question the shallowness of their donation. While a hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money, they got a pretty good deal for what they paid.

When I watched Target make their donation to the show it got me thinking about other companies who have forked out large amounts of money to better position their brand in the eyes of consumers. The first one to come to mind was an interesting one, being it the Tobacco giant, Phillip Morris. I find it somewhat ironic that the biggest Tobacco company in the world would think it necessary to brighten their brand image in the eye of the consumer, considering they play a decent role in America’s death toll.

In 1999 Phillip Morris spent 60 million dollars on charity. A truly remarkable and respectable number for donation, but afterwards they spent 108 million on an advertising campaign to inform consumers of their charitable efforts. It’s hard to say anything bad about a sixty million dollar donation, but when you spend almost twice as much just to tell people about it, your intentions will surely be questioned. After all, if their sole focus was really helping charity, wouldn’t they have just donated all 168 million?

Companies are getting very clever when it comes to implementing their IMC plans. Even when it may not seem like they are trying to get us to buy their products, through tools such as corporate advertising and selective demand stimulation they are still building their brand.

In the video below we can observe Chevron engaging a similar form of advertising as they make people aware of their efforts in Angola.

http://www.metroactive.com/papers/sonoma/12.28.00/tobacco-0052.html

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