Blurred Lines


OK so maybe Robin Thicke and Pharell really did get a little bit more than inspired from Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up” (see video at end of post). And perhaps the lines truly are blurred between inspiration and infringement.

But our beat is sponsorship and the blurred lines we’re referring to are those between Corporate Philanthropy and Corporate Sponsorship. Which is to say, in many large corporations today, you will find departments devoted to both aspects of corporate giving. And the line between those two departments is often not so clear.

Note to our non-profit readers: always check for both.

Case in point: American Airlines. American recently announced a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal with the Los Angeles Clippers.

This partnership is a classic example of how corporate sponsorship is a mutual business proposition between the property and the corporation, wherein the corporation gets a return on its “investment,” enhances its profile, and/or associates its brand with an event or organization for commercial benefit.

This dynamic is described in the February 15, 2015 LA Times article that reported the deal:

“’This momentous partnership with American Airlines marks a strategic development of the Clippers brand as we align with the best in class” says Clippers President of Business Operations Gillian Zucker. And according to American’s Vice President of Global Marketing, Fernand Fernandez, “Like the Clippers, were invested in winning…”

American also boasts a robust corporate philanthropy program. In general corporate philanthropy differs from sponsorship in that it is motivated by altruism and supports a socially beneficial cause without financial or material reward to the corporation.

Characterized by gifts which include the donation of money, goods, services, and time, corporate philanthropy is often managed by an internal community relations team or a corporate foundation. The corporation aims to enhance its image and promote goodwill with stakeholders and the community.

American Airlines has as its Global Giving strategy the following categories of charitable efforts:

  • American Airlines Kids In NeedSM – Supporting children, their families and organizations dedicated to improving their quality of life.
  • Breast Cancer Awareness and Research – Contributing to breast cancer awareness and funding research.
  • Military and Veterans – Giving back to those who serve.
  • Disaster Aid and Response – Providing emergency relief to those in need.
  • Employee Volunteerism and Giving – Encouraging employees to volunteer their time and money to causes that are important to them.

Increasingly, the lines between corporate philanthropy and sponsorship have become blurred as some corporations create a hybrid between the two types of giving. Clearly there are benefits to the corporation, its image and ultimately its bottom line no matter the category of giving. The important lesson for our readers is to not limit yourself to any one type of funding. Ask for every type of gift or sponsorship for which you qualify.

For specific information about American Airline’s charitable giving program and how you might benefit, click here:

For more information about American’s corporate sponsorship program and how to apply, click here.

We can help you connect with American or any other sponsor. Just tell us about your event or organization here.

Oh, and as for those other Blurred Lines, well … you tell me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *