Bob Costas, NBC and Chase Team Up on 2-Hour Commercial

Tonight NBC will air “American Giving Awards,” a 2-hour special hosted by Bob Costas that will profile recipients of Chase charitable donations.

From NY Times:

The producers and the network suggested Friday that the awards show was a feel-good holiday season special. Kimberly B. Davis, the president of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, said it was about celebrating “ordinary people doing extraordinary things in communities.”

But to others, the show has another bottom line. It’s a “‘greed-washing’ campaign to score P.R. points,” countered Lisa Graves, whose publication “PR Watch” investigates company public relations campaigns. The $2 million in donations that will be featured on Saturday “are a drop in the bucket compared to its ultra-lush benefits for bankers who profited richly from the swaps that undermined our nation’s financial security,” she said.

The “American Giving Awards” are part of a broader business world trend. Not content to have the news media cover its good works, many companies are creating their own media, often cloaked as entertainment.

I don’t think this is such a bad thing. It’s not like viewers have to watch it; if it’s good TV they will. As for the blurring of church and state, I’m hoping NBC News will continue to cover JPMorgan Chase as they did before. Of course, industry watchers have raised legitimate questions about a news outlet’s objectivity when it’s a division of a giant global media conglomerate that puts advertising profits ahead of reporting rigor. But that’s about money–the biggest ad spenders, presumably, are most likely to benefit from favorable coverage–not the content of the ads that money buys. If Chase feels compelled to peel off some marketing dollars from a flight of credit card commercials, and to put that money into charity work and long-form commercials congratulating themselves for doing so, great. I’m not recommending Chase for a Nobel Peace Prize, but in my book greed-washing still beats unapologetic greed.

Leave a Reply