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Levit Urges Corporate Compassion in the Face of Tragedy

Yearbook of Experts, 12 January 2005 – An outpouring of worldwide support follows tragedies and disasters, such as the tsunami that devastated South Asia. The most common way of showing compassion is to provide financial support to those affected. Compassion is among the most attractive qualities of the human spirit.

But in the face of a tragedy, what are the most appropriate actions for marketers to take? According to Partners & Levit Advertising’s managing partner, Mark Levit. “Financial relief is the universal way to demonstrate a company contributes to the greater good. A pitfall manifests, though, when the corporation’s motives are in question.”

Historically, certain companies have made the mistake of advertising their efforts to help victims. “Showing you care is the responsible thing to do as a corporate citizen, but patting yourself on the back for it is generally tasteless. It is perceived as exploiting a tragedy,” said Levit.

Philip Morris (now Altria Group) did tremendous damage to their already tarnished public perception in 2000 when they launched a $100 million campaign to promote their $2 million donation to national domestic violence programs. Anheuser-Busch made a similar mistake when they created and aired a national television commercial after the September 11th attacks to announce contributions of $3 million to relief organizations.

Levit continued, “Corporations must demonstrate caring without flaunting it. Marketers might consider providing a public service, such as sponsoring uninterrupted news coverage, which benefits their customers. Besides, it’s pointless to advertise during times when customers’ attention is focused on devastating events.”

Tragedies change the mindsets of customers. It is important advertisers be sensitive to those changes. A shift occurs in terms of what was important before a disaster and what is important during and after.

In perilous times, changing or stopping an inappropriate advertising campaign is the responsible thing to do. A crisis changes the context of a corporation’s advertising strategy. “A campaign that is a creative stroke of genius may seem insensitive in a time of turmoil,” added Levit.

Corporate generosity delivers greater benefits than those of avoiding negative press — they give customers a sense of relief. Customers in general feel more at ease when they perceive corporations are contributing to the greater good. “Ultimately, this is one of the most important considerations, as it affects the well being of customers,” Levit concluded.

Copyright 2005 Broadcast Interview Source, Inc.
Yearbook of Experts

Copyright © 2005 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Author Luke Harding
Publication Date 12.01.2005
Document Type News articles
Issue/Topic Corporate Social Responsibility
Source Yearbook of Experts


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