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Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History by Bill Halligan, Brian Halligan, David Meerman Scott

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Chapter 18. Give Back

The Grateful Dead frequently threw their support behind causes and ideas they believed in, especially anything related to improving life in their home base of San Francisco. Starting in the 1960s, the band participated in frequent benefit concerts, donating the proceeds to support a variety of important causes. For example, an early benefit for the Haight Ashbury Legal Organization, in which the Grateful Dead and other acts performed at the Winterland Ballroom on May 30, 1966, raised $12,000 to fund legal help for those who could not afford it. Giving back to the community became an essential element of the band's brand image.

"Giving back" was not just limited to benefit concerts. At the band's regular shows, they invited favorite organizations to set up tables in the hallways and educate fans on issues like organ donation and voter registration. Concertgoers knew the Grateful Dead's commitment was authentic and that added to the perception of the band's positive and supportive approach to making music and helping people improve their lives.

For nearly 20 years, the Grateful Dead organized benefit concerts as the primary vehicle for giving. But band members became increasingly overwhelmed with the sheer number of requests ...

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