Skip to main content

Cause Marketing from El Presidente

CITGO, the oil refiner and gasoline marketer faces a number of brand challenges. Is there a place here for cause marketing?

The average gas price in the United States is currently $3.88 a gallon, according to a report in yesterday’s USA Today, with at least half a dozen states reporting $4 a gallon gas.

Unlike our compatriots in Europe, Americans are entirely unaccustomed to high gasoline prices. It’s no exaggeration to say that President Obama’s chances of reelection in 2012 hinge, in part, on how high fuel prices stay. Pundits suggest that if gas prices nationwide in November 2011 are above $4, President Obama’s chances aren’t good.

CITGO has been owned in its entirety since 1990 by Petroleos de Venezuela, the Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company. CITGO, therefore, is effectively controlled by Hugo Chavez, the autocratic president of Venezuela who has no love for the United States, and who has expressed his feelings about the USA frequently and venomously.

Moreover, CITGO has been poor steward of the public’s trust in its refinery operations. According to Wikipedia, the company’s American refineries have violated the Clean Air Act, released illegal levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, and released hydrofluoric acid after a fire at the same refinery.

Not surprisingly to battle that trifecta of bad PR CITGO has an expensive-looking corporate image campaign, including the ad from Time magazine above. But the campaign looks slickest at

At the site, there’s all kinds of stories about local causes CITGO and its dealers have helped. CITGO also has an existing relationship of some standing with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

At CITGO’s home site they trumpet their fuel oil program that benefits the poor and donations to Simon Bolivar Foundation. Chavez fancies himself a modern heir to the great Libertador.

Is it enough?

I don’t live in CITGO’s service area so I am largely uninfluenced by donations to local charities in Texas, Florida, and the rest of the Southeast. Moreover, I have a jaundiced view of Hugo Chavez.

But for me, CITGO’s efforts don’t seem like enough. I can be had after all. But I'm not cheap!


Popular posts from this blog

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.

Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

Profile of Cause Marketing Veteran Joe Lake

Blogger's Note: What follows is a profile and interview I wrote of Children's Miracle Network co-founder Joe Lake, who was recently installed as the CEO of the Starfish Television Network. This originally appeared in the Salt Lake Enterprise on Monday, May 11.

Lining the walls of the office of Joe Lake, the new CEO of the Starfish Television Network, a 501(c) (3) public charity and television network founded in 2006 and headquartered in Midvale, are pictures of the many celebrities he has worked with.

There are pictures of Joe with Goldie Hawn, Sidney Poitier, Jeff Bridges, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Rob Lowe and Walter Cronkite, and affectionately-autographed publicity stills from Bob Hope and Rich Little.

It’s something you’d expect in the office of a Hollywood agent, or at a celebrity hangout in Manhattan, or Chicago or Vegas. But the Starfish Television Network, whose mission is to tell the stories of nation’s nonprofits in a way that educates, entertains and inspires its audi…

50 Cent, Cause Marketer

Curtis Jackson, aka rapper 50 Cent visited the horn of Africa in September 2011 hosted by the United Nations and committed to provide 1 billion meals to the World Food Programme over the next five years, funded in part by several cause marketing efforts.

The Horn of Africa has a lot of problems right now, nonetheleast of which is that starvation there is rampant, long-term drought is endemic, and working institutions are few.

Since the UN's World Food Programme can manage to deliver a meal for about $0.10, Jackson has basically committed to donating $100 million (or 200 million 50 cent pieces). That's a very big number.

He gave his commitment a kick start with a donation of $350,000. Like him on Facebook, and when he reaches 1 million new likes, he’ll donate another $1 million.

50 Cent is also tying the sales of his Street King energy drink to the World Food Progamme (WFP). For every bottle sold, 50 Cent will donate one meal.

Street King competes with 5-Hour Energy Drink, a ca…