The Death of A Thousand Cuts : Corporate Campaigns and the Attack on the Corporation book cover
1st Edition

The Death of A Thousand Cuts
Corporate Campaigns and the Attack on the Corporation

ISBN 9781138989016
Published November 24, 2015 by Routledge
381 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $54.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface. Introduction. From Ann Arbor, With Love. The State of the Unions. The Learning Curve. The Corporate Campaign Comes of Age. Nonlabor-Based Anticorporate Campaigns. Look for the Union Label. Attack of the "Tree-Huggers." Campaigning by the Book. The Codes of the West. Money Talks.... ...and the Customers Walk. The Tools of Capitalism. The Campaign Branches Out. Telling the Public What It Thinks. Weaving a Web, Worldwide. Back to the Future. Appendices: Union-Initiated and Other Labor-Based Corporate Campaigns, 1974-1999. Anticorporate Campaigns Launched by Nonlabor Entities, 1989-1999.

View More


"Although organized labor uses it often, the corporate campaign is little known and little understood. In this comprehensive and sophisticated study, Manheim makes a major contribution to public understanding of this strategy and its tactics....The Death of a Thousand Cuts is an insightful history and a useful reference for union tactics."
—Labor Watch

"This book is recommended for anyone who is involved in corporate or association communications--either as a public relations communicator trying to build community support or as a public affairs executive trying to win legislative battles."
—Impact, the newsletter of the Public Affairs Council

"One [strength] is Manheim's treatment of the 100-year history of U.S. labor, which provides an excellent contextualization for the birth and development of corporate campaigns. Extensive summaries of key case studies, including lists of key players, make the book an invaluable handbook for scholars interested in studying a particular campaign or for individuals interested in initiating or becoming involved in one."
—Communication Theory

"Academics in political science, sociology, business, and communications might find this study as a useful reference document."
—Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly

"The Death of a Thousand Cuts fills an important gap in political communication....Manheim's intriguing book offers many insights into a little explored phenomenon....The Death of a Thousand Cuts is a provocative and enlightening addition to the political communication literature, and Manheim convinces us that corporate campaigns are a form of political communication deserving increased research and theoretical attention."

—Political Communication

"This book is a great addition to the literature on social activism. Manheim does a masterful job of describing the new techniques and strategies applied by unions and other interest groups to attack corporations in order to achieve their own purposes. By making these strategies transparent, Manheim is raising the level of the public's awareness."
—Philip Kotler
Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University

"A must read for every CEO, public relations, and human resources practitioner...only after being armed with Manheim's 'big picture' knowledge can an organization hope to minimize the damage done by a corporate campaign...normal crisis communication skills/tactics cannot help a corporation under attack."
—Michael R. Walker
Chairman and CEO, Genesis Health Ventures, Inc. and Chairman, ElderTrust

"Forewarned is forearmed. In no case does this maxim pack greater wisdom into these few words than in dealing with the corporate campaign. For those who would be forearmed, Dr. Manheim's exhaustive history and analysis is more than a 'must read,' it is a definitive work to be carefully studied. Indeed, it brings to mind another maxim: those who do not study history are doomed to relive it."
—Columbus R. Gangemi
Chair, Labor & Employment Law Practice Group, Winston & Strawn

"Manheim has written the definitive work on corporate campaigns. It is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the proliferation of strategic communication campaigns that have captured American politics, left, right, and center."
—W. Lance Bennett
Professor of Political Science and Ruddick C. Lawrence Professor of Communication, University of Washington