The effect of cause-related marketing on firm value: a look at Fortune’s most admired all-stars

  • Parker J. WoodroofEmail author
  • George D. Deitz
  • Katharine M. Howie
  • Robert D. EvansJr
Original Empirical Research


Companies are increasing their use of cause-related marketing as a means of communicating their commitment to corporate social responsibility while accomplishing their strategic goals. Although prior studies suggest that consumers react positively to cause-related marketing programs, understanding of their impact on financial performance remains limited. To address this gap, the authors employ an event study to examine the effects of cause-related marketing announcements on shareholder value using a sample of firms that appeared on Fortune’s Most Admired All-Star list between 2005 and 2017. Study results show that announcement of these initiatives results in a significant loss of shareholder value. These losses are most pronounced for firms making monetary-only contributions, in comparison to those that make in-kind donations. In addition, the negative effects are mitigated for firms that have stronger reputations, have greater resource slack, and operate in more dynamic industries. Moreover, low-reputation and low-slack firms benefit most from in-kind contributions.


Cause-related marketing Corporate social responsibility Shareholder value Event-study analysis Resource based view 



We would like to thank the three blind reviewers for all of their valuable critiques throughout this process. We also greatly appreciate Dr. Michael Peasley and Dr. Stacey Robinson for the feedback and insight they provided along the way.


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© Academy of Marketing Science 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Central ArkansasConwayUSA
  2. 2.The University of MemphisMemphisUSA
  3. 3.University of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada
  4. 4.Texas A&M International UniversityLaredoUSA

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