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Selling Social Good: Making Sense of Cause Marketing

Ad campaign for Nike featuring Colin Kaepernick
5 pm - 7 pm ET
8th floor commons
239 Greene Street, New York, NY 10003


We live in a media landscape in which an increasing number of nonprofits and activist groups like #BLM and Greenpeace employ creative advertising strategies while global brands including Uber, Starbucks and JetBlue use ‘cause marketing’ to build brand loyalty.

For some, this erosion of the boundary between “authentic” communication from the non-profit and activist worlds and branded content is cause for concern; for others, it is not only a practicality but also a factor of contemporary brand culture. This panel aims to address the complexity of this branded world and how it upends how we think about media studies and brands.

Sarah Banet-Weiser is Distinguished Professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication and Professor of Communication at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Her teaching and research interests include gender in the media, identity, citizenship, and cultural politics, consumer culture and popular media, race and the media, and intersectional feminism. Committed to intellectual and activist conversations that explore how global media politics are exercised, expressed, and perpetuated in different cultural contexts, she has authored or edited eight books, including the award-winning Authentic™: The Politics of Ambivalence in a Brand Culture and Empowered: Popular Feminism and Popular Misogyny. In 2019-2020, she had a regular column on popular feminism in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Andrew Essex is the former CEO of Tribeca Enterprises, the parent company of the Tribeca Film Festival, and founding CEO of Droga5, what The Guardian called “the most exciting agency on the planet.” He is a frequent public speaker on media, marketing and monetization strategies, and sits on the board of The AdCouncil, iPic Entertainment, and Plus Pool. Andrew is the Chair of the NYC Mayor’s Creative Council, and a former advisor to the White House American Office of Innovation. He's been an award-winning journalist and cultural editor at such publications as The New YorkerDetails and, and a television commentator for ABC, CNN, and CNBC. He is the author of The End of Advertising: Why It Had to Die, and the Creative Resurrection to Come.

50 Years of Media Studies at NYU

The Department of Media, Culture, and Communication is recognizing 50 years since Neil Postman founded the NYU graduate program in Media Ecology — what he referred to as “an exhilarating effort” to advance the field of communication in new directions.

Read this History

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