Cover image for The death of a thousand cuts : corporate campaigns and the contemporary attack on the corporation
The death of a thousand cuts : corporate campaigns and the contemporary attack on the corporation
Manheim, Jarol B., 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Mahwah, NJ : Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, [2001]

Physical Description:
xvii, 362 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
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HD59 .M257 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A corporate campaign is an organized assault on the reputation of a company that has offended some interest group. Although corporate campaigns often involve political, economic, and legal tactics, they are centered around the media, where protagonists attempt to redefine the image--and undermine the reputation--of the target company. It is a strategy most frequently employed by unions but is also employed by special interests, such as environmental or human rights groups. Sometimes it is even employed by one corporation against another. It is a rapidly growing phenomenon that is still unknown to the general public, to most academics and journalists, and is rarely understood by the corporations that find themselves on the firing line.

The Death of a Thousand Cuts argues and demonstrates that corporate campaigns are a distinctive phenomenon whose manifestations are today ubiquitous in both the marketplace and the media. This volume examines, in considerable detail, the history, strategy, tactics, effects, consequences, and likely future directions of the corporate campaign and of its nonlabor-based cousin, the anticorporate campaign. The book is based on ample sources and methods, among them an extensive review and analysis of media coverage, news releases, previous scholarship, union publications, campaign materials, interviews and conversations with individuals who have experienced corporate campaigns, public presentations by labor leaders and others, correspondence, Internet postings, case law summaries, documents, videotapes, and other materials. Through original data and interpretation, this book adds context and integration to these materials thus giving them new meaning.
Key features of this outstanding new book include:
* A thorough and clear explanation of what a corporate campaign is and how it differs from other more mundane "public relations" campaigns.
* A detailed examination of strategies and tactics that includes their historical development. Some of the more high profile target companies in recent years include Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Caterpillar, Campbell's Soup, Federal Express, General Dynamics, Home Depot, International Paper, K-Mart, Nike, Texaco, Walmart, Starbucks, and UPS.
* Hundreds of examples that help explain such contemporary events as the anti-sweatshop movement on college campuses, the living wage movement, and the protests against the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank.
* A lengthy appendix contains abbreviated descriptions of nearly 200 corporate campaigns waged by labor unions and various advocacy groups since the idea of the corporate campaign was first developed in the 1960's.

Author Notes

Jarol B. Manheim is Professor of Media and Public Affairs and of Political Science at The George Washington University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Manheim (George Washington Univ.) defines corporate campaigns as systematically organized assaults--involving economic, political, legal, and psychological warfare--on companies that have offended a labor union or an advocacy group, and he contends they are pervasive in both the marketplace and media. His book covers the development of this phenomenon since the 1960s, examines its underlying theory, and explores its strategies, tactics, objectives, and effects. He provides numerous examples of labor-based corporate campaigns and non-labor-based anticorporate campaigns to illustrate his account. As the title states, these campaigns are aimed not only at particular corporations but also at the corporation per se and its death. This extreme thesis is not convincing. Most corporate campaigns are directed at particular issues and policies such as wages, gender discrimination, sweatshops, and pollution. Manheim complains that these campaigns lift discussion to the moral high ground, bu t he offers no thoughts on how corporations could take up these ethical challenges. Reference to the vast business ethics literature is conspicuously absent. The book is an interesting attempt to industriously collect a considerable amount of information and develop a provocative theory, but it has a profound antiunion bias and lacks discussion of ethical considerations. Most appropriate for graduate, research, and professional collections. G. Enderle University of Notre Dame

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Introductionp. xiii
1 From Ann Arbor, With Lovep. 1
2 The State of the Unionsp. 23
3 The Learning Curvep. 45
4 The Corporate Campaign Comes of Agep. 63
5 Nonlabor-Based Anticorporate Campaignsp. 91
6 Look for the Union Labelp. 111
7 Attack of the "Tree-Huggers"p. 135
8 Campaigning by the Bookp. 161
9 The Codes of the Westp. 191
10 Money Talks...p. 213
11 ... and the Customers Walkp. 231
12 The Tools of Capitalismp. 241
13 The Campaign Branches Outp. 255
14 Telling the Public What It Thinksp. 271
15 Weaving a Web, Worldwidep. 285
16 Back to the Futurep. 299
Appendix A Union-Initiated and Other Labor-Based Corporate Campaigns, 1974-1999p. 311
Appendix B Anticorporate Campaigns Launched by Nonlabor Entities, 1989-1999p. 341
Indexp. 347