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2019/2020  KAN-CCBLV1021U  Ethical Consumption, Celebrities and Development

English Title
Ethical Consumption, Celebrities and Development

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Spring
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Min. participants 40
Max. participants 60
Study board
Study Board for BSc and MSc in Business, Language and Culture, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Stefano Ponte - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Customer behaviour
  • International political economy
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 07-05-2020

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • Explain theories and concepts covered in the course readings that are relevant to understanding the entanglement of ethical consumption, celebrity engagement, and development and humanitarian causes -- in what is called 'Brand Aid'
  • Apply concepts and theories from the course to analyse how Brand Aid initiatives are implemented in practice
  • Critically evaluate these theories, their application and limitations in relation to explaining the effects of Brand Aid initiatives on consumers, NGOs, celebrities, corporations and the putative beneficiaries of the causes embedded in these initiatives.
Course prerequisites
No prior qualifications needed, only intellectual curiosity and a willingness to examine and challenge your own assumptions about what cause-related marketing and ethical consumption can achieve for business and society.
Ethical Consumption, Celebrities and Development:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Please see text below
The assignment is a 4h written assignment taken from home.
Assignment type Written assignment
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Summer
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

What links a handmade necklace of paper beads with a pair of Emporio Armani (RED) sunglasses or a pack of disposable diapers with a pink BMW luxury car?  Belonging shapes our politics and our purchases.  ‘Beads For Life’ are certified by Martha Stewart as ‘eradicating poverty one bead at a time.’  Bono assures us that a percentage of the profits of all (RED) co-branded products goes directly to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.  And the voice of Salma Hayek, famous Mexican-American actress, informs consumers that ‘one pack of pampers = one lifesaving vaccine’.


All of these products are sold through cause-related marketing (CRM) initiatives to raise funds and awareness for development and humanitarian causes – targeting ethical consumers who want to shop for a better world. But as globalization shifts traditional boundaries of production and exchange, new understandings are needed about what constitutes a better product, a more ‘ethical’ consumer and indeed 'development'.


Ethical consumption is one of the fastest growing trends in contemporary societies, as individuals find the marketplace provides a public opportunity for performing their personal values. We are all consumers:  people in the global North and South alike increasing rely on market transactions for their basic staples, their luxuries and even their lives. We are also citizens:  purchases have material and symbolic meaning and understanding the marketing of values is important for understanding political power.

Existing understandings of ethical consumption rest on the core belief that reconnecting the sites of consumption with those of production will enable a fairer distribution of value along supply chains, potentially driven by ‘fair trade’ and ‘ethical consumption’ purchases.  However, these perspectives fall short in their exclusive focus on the product itself as the location of ‘ethical’ value.  To understand the implications of these trends, we must not neglect a focus on products, but must also understand the development and humanitarian causes that are ‘sold’ together with the products, and the celebrities that often translate, communicate and embody an ethical leadership role in the management of consumers’ desire to do good while shopping well.


The concept of ‘Brand Aid’ will be employed in this course to examine how branded products are sold as ethical through their verification by celebrities who link them to worthy development and humanitarian causes.  Brand Aid is ‘aid to brands’ because it helps sell products and improve a brand’s ethical profile and value. It is also ‘brands that provide aid’ because a proportion of the profit or sales is devoted to helping others.  Brand Aid is thus constituted through the intersection of product+cause+celebrity. 


This course will theoretically and empirically examine how development and humanitarian causes, celebrity engagement and ethical consumption overlap in view of understanding of how values shape contemporary consumption, and how consumer choice materializes specific forms of development. Lectures covering concepts and empirical case studies will be integrated by group work, role play and simulations, where the students will have the chance to engage in a series of case studies. 

Description of the teaching methods
The course is structured to combine theory and practice seamlessly in each section. It covers theories of (ethical) consumption, sustainable and ethical trade and production, development and humanitarian causes, cause-related marketing, and celebrity engagement – with practical and case study-oriented dialogue and discussion. Lectures and group discussion are accompanied by simulations, role-play and gaming. Learning materials include written and well as audio-visual (such as documentaries) sources and software-mediated interaction. Attention is paid to developing students’ ability to consider a variety of options and devise solutions to the complex dilemmas that surface in Brand Aid and other cause-related marketing initiatives, and especially those where celebrities are involved.
Feedback during the teaching period
The main way for students to obtain feedback on their readings and work for this course is through active participation in class. Students are expected to attend lectures and discussion sessions, to come prepared and participate actively. Specific guidance on the exam content and form will be provided in the last session. Finally, students can receive individual or group feedback during the regular consultation hours.
Student workload
Class participation 30 hours
Preparation for classes and exam 172 hours
Exam 4 hours
Total 206 hours
Expected literature

Selected portions of the following books:


Brockington, Dan (2014) Celebrity Advocacy and International Development, Routledge.


Einstein, M. (2012) Compassion, Inc. University of California Press.


Nicholls, A. and C. Opal (2005). Fair Trade: Market-driven Ethical Consumption. Sage.


O'Rourke, D., (2012). Shopping for good, MIT Press. 


Richey, L.A. (2016) Celebrity Humanitarianism and North-South Relations, Routledge.


Richey, L.A. and S. Ponte (2011) Brand Aid: Shopping Well to Save the World, University of Minnesota Press.


Other articles and case studies TBA

Last updated on 07-05-2020