For products (e.g., alcohol) which have potential for misuse leading to injury or death, defensive cause marketing has the goal of reducing that misuse while also inoculating the manufacturer and retailer against a reputation crisis leading to lost sales or government regulation. For instance, from time-to-time, news reports mention the hundreds of thousands of birds and marine life which suffocate to death on shredded remnants of plastic grocery store bags that flew away from landfills. To inoculate against criticism for continuing to offer plastic bags (which many consumers prefer), grocery stores can engage in defensive cause marketing by offering reusable canvas bags at-cost, or by providing a drop-off box for used plastic bags that will be recycled more conscientiously. Other examples of defensive cause marketing include beer companies which advertise against drinking and driving (though usually framed as “drink responsibly”) and smartphone retailers who advertise against texting while driving.
The study finds that CSR significantly improves profitability, management efficiency, and market valuation. On the other hand, corporate irresponsibility has a marginal effect on damaging profitability only — and no significant effect on damaging management efficiency or market valuation. When a firm acts both responsibly and irresponsibly, the study confirms the “halo-effect” because the positive impact of CSR on financial performance outweighs the negative impact of acting irresponsibly.
The findings of this Ph.D thesis provide evidence that CSR can be used by professional sports organizations to improve their reputation among consumers. Moreover, CSR can be used to counter negative effects of sport organizations’ unethical behaviors and reduce the impact on the organizations themselves as well as on their stakeholders.