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Educational Crusade or Product Masquerade? Exploring the Commercialization of Social Responsibility in America's Healthcare Industry
Unformatted Document Text:  COMMERCIALIZATION OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY 7 effective strategies, the latter to explore and better understand the relationship between social marketing and philanthropy, sponsorship, and cause-related marketing. It has become increasingly common for firms to think of each of these activities as part of their overall marketing or business strategy, and it is accepted practice for firms to target their charitable giving’s to complement their strategic goals. Much more thought must be given as to how all these activities fit into the all-encompassing concept of corporate social responsibility. (Davidson & Novelli in Andreasen, 2001, p.72) The dubious tenets that currently govern ‘for-profit’ marketing models suggest that, despite Merck’s efforts to expose a threat, educate the public, and encourage personal vigilance, the case could be made that the nationally-broadcasted HPV awareness campaign was, in effect, an ethically compromised, promotionally driven, and ingeniously approached advertising operation for the GARDASIL vaccination (Crosswell & Ruth, 2009). Due to the alarming content and nationwide coverage of the recently launched awareness campaign, it is important for society to recognize corporate influence on viewers’ understanding of health issues and the publics’ corresponding trust in the healthcare community. Existing studies indicate that when for-profit agencies tiptoe into non-profit terrain, exploiting the marketing practices indigenous of philanthropic agencies, the end result is generally consumer skepticism (Blazing & Bloom, 1998). Pardun (2009) offers that, “part of the controversy rests with whether we can trust the motives of a company to do good” (p.175). Further highlighting the delicate dynamics of social trust, Lundgren & McMakin (2004) suggest that, “when people perceive themselves to be at risk, they understand and put into practice only those messages that come from sources they perceive as trustworthy and credible” (p.38). Based on this evidence, the claim can be made that Merck’s involvement in the HPV health awareness

Authors: Crosswell, Laura.
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effective  strategies,  the  latter  to  explore  and  better  understand  the  relationship  between 
social  marketing  and  philanthropy,  sponsorship,  and  cause-related  marketing.  It  has 
become increasingly common for firms to think of each of these activities as part of their 
overall marketing or business strategy, and it is accepted practice for firms to target their 
charitable  giving’s  to  complement  their  strategic  goals.  Much  more  thought  must  be 
given  as  to  how  all  these  activities  fit  into  the  all-encompassing  concept  of  corporate 
social responsibility. (Davidson & Novelli in Andreasen, 2001, p.72)  
The dubious tenets that currently govern ‘for-profit’ marketing models suggest that, 
despite Merck’s efforts to expose a threat, educate the public, and encourage personal vigilance, 
the case could be made that the nationally-broadcasted HPV awareness campaign was, in effect, 
an ethically compromised, promotionally driven, and ingeniously approached advertising 
operation for the GARDASIL vaccination (Crosswell & Ruth, 2009). Due to the alarming 
content and nationwide coverage of the recently launched awareness campaign, it is important 
for society to recognize corporate influence on viewers’ understanding of health issues and the 
publics’ corresponding trust in the healthcare community. 
Existing studies indicate that when for-profit agencies tiptoe into non-profit terrain, 
exploiting the marketing practices indigenous of philanthropic agencies, the end result is 
generally consumer skepticism (Blazing & Bloom, 1998). Pardun (2009) offers that, “part of the 
controversy rests with whether we can trust the motives of a company to do good” (p.175).  
Further highlighting the delicate dynamics of social trust, Lundgren & McMakin (2004) suggest 
that, “when people perceive themselves to be at risk, they understand and put into practice only 
those messages that come from sources they perceive as trustworthy and credible” (p.38). Based 
on this evidence, the claim can be made that Merck’s involvement in the HPV health awareness 

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