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BOB MOON: Tomorrow is the 15th annual canned food drive conducted by the country’s mail carriers. They’re asking that you leave canned food in your mailbox and they’ll take it to local food banks. The event’s chief corporate sponsor is Campbell’s Soup which, by no coincidence, is one of one of the largest makers of canned foods in the world. As Pat Loeb reports, it’s a classic example of cause marketing.
PAT LOEB: Cause marketing is when a company raises money for a cause through means that increase its own sales.
American companies spent an estimated $1.3 billion on cause marketing last year, 20 percent more than the year before.
But marketing strategists like Jim Nail warn that companies have to be careful.
JIM NAIL: Consumers are now so cynical. They’re very sensitive to things that do look opportunistic.
Nail thinks Campbell’s is treading on thin ice. The company promotes the event through public service announcements and its own advertisements that urge consumers to buy Campbell’s products, then leave them for a mail carrier.
Campbell’s John Faulkner says the company is proud of its involvement.
JOHN FAULKNER: I guess if you’re a cynic and you want to say it’s exploitative, perhaps you can make that case, but we have to do what we think is right.
The mail carriers union and the food banks that benefit value Campbell’s support. The one-day event generates 70 percent of all the food donated nationally through food drives.
I’m Pat Loeb for Marketplace.
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