Posts Tagged 'cause marketing'

Starbucks, Pushing the Bounds of CSR: Is That a Good Thing?

We knew when we first read about it, that we’d write a post about it. Howard Schultz and Starbucks had done it again—proven to be an agenda-setter on public engagement and corporate social responsibility (CSR). No, we’re not talking about the #RaceTogether initiative—but we’re including our thoughts on that in this post too! The impetus really began with Starbucks’s salute to military veterans in its For Love of Country recognition.Starbucks
For Love of Country may not be as familiar as Race Together, but it predates and overlaps with the much ballyhooed #RaceTogether. For those who may have missed it, Starbucks joined forces with journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran to produce a book and related advertising and media push to herald not only the courageous service of military veterans, but to also raise some prickly social issues–namely, who fights our wars in America’s all-volunteer army (and who doesn’t), and how those who do are acknowledged for their service.  (Not nearly meaningfully and substantively enough by the rest of us.)

We were impressed that Schultz, as a corporate leader, not only stepped out front on this sensitive topic, but then went one step further—in the minds of many, one step too far—by prodding us to talk about the contentious issue of “race.”

Starbucks tweet

 

Whether you thought well or ill or the #RaceTogether effort, or even question a company raising pangs of consciousness about the social justice of an all-volunteer army, or any other societal woe, we think there’s a lot to be gained by companies taking leadership on social issues.

There’s a long history of companies doing well by doing good. You’ve read some of our posts on Henry Ford and a whole array of others before and since who’ve put their money and their mouths to lead or join important social and civic conversations. Indeed, it’s well established that a socially active or PR savvy CEO brings added value to a company and even an industry

As further affirmation, just look at what tech moguls were able to help accomplish when they found their collective voice against sex bias and discrimination in #Indiana.

So we think it’s a good thing that CEOs like Howard Schultz embark on campaigns that remind us that companies share  our social pains and that, even better, they have the means to affect changes that make things better for us all. We all know that companies often engage their collective voices behind closed doors to secretly lobby for things they believe represent their corporate interests. We think it’s time more CEOs join the public dialogue about the things more enduring and sustaining that impact us all. Wanna’ talk about #RaceTogether? We’re game. And while we’re at it, let’s talk about For Love of Country, too!
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A New Era in Corporate Social Responsibility?

CSR

Okay, so we’ve been  MIA to attend to some new projects. But we thought we’d finish out 2014 and go into 2015 strong, with some words of wisdom on one of our favorite topics–CSR (corporate social responsibility).

As with everything else associated with business marketing and communications, there’s a way to do almost anything … then there’s a way to do things that are strategically aligned with our business purpose, goals, and values, etc. So it was interesting to us to run across this Harvard Business Review in-depth assessment of CSR programs, which can provide guidance to all us PR-types on why companies do what they do in CSR (the end goal), and how they might do it better. For your new year’s enjoyment, were passing along the article and advice here.

Most companies have long practiced some form of corporate social and environmental responsibility with the broad goal, simply, of contributing to the well-being of the communities and society they affect and on which they depend. But there is increasing pressure to dress up CSR as a business discipline and demand that every initiative deliver business results. That is asking too much of CSR and distracts from what must be its main goal …  Read more.

 

BTW, Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Greetings & Image

 

Smart Marketing & Corporate Social Responsibility: Beyond A Marriage of Convenience

Infographic of corporate reputation and social responsibility by Boston College professor

We’ve said before that we’re big proponents of “smart marketing”:  Companies that show they “get it” by marrying their business mission and vision to also serve some public good. By another name, it’s also called corporate social responsibility.

That approach to business, articulated with authority by Henry Ford in the early 20th Century—has been a proven model for “good,” as well as for effective business practices. Today it’s carried forward by many visionary companies.

We like to call it “makes-sense marketing” because, in effect, these companies are paying it forward and stockpiling public goodwill, as well as managing their “bottom line.” Periodically, we like writing about those companies and their campaigns on these pages.

So it brings us great pleasure to share this round-up of “smart marketing” companies, first published by Hubspot, who have made their “giving back” programs an integral part of the company culture. These companies include American Express, Lowe’s, General Electric, and others you may not be aware of.

And, more recently, another natural disaster, the incredible Typhoon Haiyan, motivated another corporate giant—Google–to get creative and show how it could help. Melissa Agnes writes about how Google is combining its business mission and tools with public service to provide critical help to those suffering during an enormous crisis.

Please take a few moments to check out these stories, take a few notes, and perhaps a few lessons from what they’ve done. And, by all means, tell us what you think. We’d like to see smart marketing—makes-sense marketing—become a real movement!

*A final note: As if made to order, shortly after publishing, we ran across this Forbes article on “Purpose” that we think summarizes the ethos quite nicely. The only thing we would add to the writer’s bullet list is be certain to “act” on your purpose!

Richard Branson and Global B-Team Look to Make Bold Moves in Corporate Social Responsibility

Richard Branson

Do you know about The B-Team?

Virgin enterprises founder Richard Branson has assembled an international braintrust
to make corporate social responsibility  a frontburner issue among C-suite execs and in boardrooms.

We gather that this effort is designed to bring the same kind of muscle to perplexing and pervasive social issues as some companies already do individually and foundations frequently do collectively. Yet, Branson’s goal is to harness the somewhat unique collective power of global business to amplify the impact on some of the world’s most intractable social problems.

By its own telling, The B-Team’s “vision of the future is a world in which the purpose of business is to be a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit.”

Taking  up the mantle of a modern-day Henry Ford, The B-Team offers an equally bold mission:  “to deliver a ‘Plan B’ that puts people and planet alongside profit. Plan A — where companies have been driven by the profit motive alone — is no longer acceptable.”

B team screen shot

The B-Team Web Site

Branson, noted for his bold and audacious corporate moves, brings a very different force, and perhaps focus, to the rather low-key world of CSR. The powerhouse group’s manifesto is an unblinking call to action, which includes these statements :

  • “Non-Profits alone cannot solve the tasks at hand, while many governments are unwilling or unable to act.
  • “While there are myriad reasons we’ve arrived at this juncture, much of the blame rests with the principles and practices of ‘business as usual’.
  • “These are not the outcomes we envisioned as we grew our companies; this is not the dream that inspired us.
  • “And the overwhelming conclusion we’ve reached is that businesses have been a major contributor to the problems, and we as business leaders have the responsibility of creating sustainable solutions.”

(Check out their video declaration of these principles:  http://bteam.org/leadership/watch-the-b-team-declaration/ )

We hope it makes a difference. We couldn’t agree more that the public and nonprofit sectors alone can’t address the growing host of existing global and social problems—a number of which are caused by bad business practices. This movement bears watching; and we hope this consolidated global business force can bring to fruition some of its most lofty goals:

“Therefore, if we leverage the many positives of business – the spirit of enterprise,
innovation and entrepreneurship that has helped realize improvements in quality
of life and enabled technological and scientific progress – we can create an
unprecedented era of sustainable, inclusive prosperity for all.”

So what do you think? Are you enthusiastic? We’d love to  read your comments.

Why Don’t They Call It “Makes-Sense” Marketing?

In past posts we’ve featured the Corporate Social Responsibility campaigns of Panera, Starbucks, Exxon and more, and there are many others out there makingPie  Chart Marketing Image similar “smart” marketing moves. One of the common equations of these and other successful cause-related marketing is that the causes they support are so intrinsically tied to their industries and their business models. So, it occurred to us, why don’t we just call these efforts “makes-sense” marketing”?

Here’s another noteworthy CSR campaign—this one by OfficeMax. The retail office supply company is providing—guess what—to schools? School supplies! It’s a win for the retailer and no doubt for the appreciative teachers, kids and administrators at receiving schools. Makes sense, right?

Clearly, more such smart marketing moves are needed, and we like to spotlight as many as we can. So if you’re aware of other smart marketing moves by companies, large and small, please let us know. Just makes sense, doesn’t it?

Exxon: Let’s Solve This

We never want to give praise to oil companies too quickly for fear we’ll be just as readily contradicted (like $5/gallon regular gasoline prices, offshore drilling, et al.). Yet, we have to say we’re impressed with Exxon’s advertising and “Let’s Solve This”  campaign to improve education, particularly US math and science education (STEM).

What grabbed our attention recently were the timely Exxon2and attractive national ads in support of teachers and educational improvement. Not only was the advertising dead-on timely, coming as it did about a week after the nationally-watched teachers’ strike that delayed the start of school in Chicago [and a few other places], but it also didn’t hurt that it coincided with a widely circulated New York Times’ story on teachers’ unions—once Democratic stalwarts—now cultivating strategic relationships with key Republicans across the country. While we’re not taking political sides on these issues, we acknowledge wholeheartedly our previous PR work on behalf of schools and school reform causes. In this instance, though, our aim is to acknowledge a company for its smart and committed corporate support on behalf issues critical to their corporate mission and for the betterment of society.

We’re always impressed when companies show they “get it” by not only taking up, but taking the lead on these kinds of issues. So, we took a look at the “Let’s Solve This” and found out some things you might want to know. Exxon/Mobil has been sponsoring this cause since 2009, with the National Math and Science Initiative, to promote teacher training and student preparation in so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). Without question, this is a critical issue for Exxon/Mobil and other corporations that depend on US ingenuity in these fields; but, of course, it’s also a critical issue for our society, in general, as Americans have been slipping further and further down in academic achievement in these areas. We like the fact the Exxon not only supports these issues behind the scene, but has shown a willingness to shine a light onto larger related issues (like the quality of education overall), even when such issues reach the point of contention.

So we’re hoping that “Let’s Solve This” does indeed make crucial headway on the series of vexing issues related to STEM. In doing so, perhaps they can provide a model for how corporate social responsibility, in general, can work on a variety of other issues.

Corporate Social Responsibility: Starbucks Redux and Other Updates

Did you notice? Have you tasted it yet?  While others are writing about Starbucks serving beer and wine, we note that CEO Howard Schultz has upped the ante on his Creating Jobs for America corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign by increasing the campaign’s visibility in stores, and even temporarily branding the effort with its own custom brew, Indivisible.

We wrote about this CSR campaign after it was  launched in November, 2011.  We can only repeat our endorsement of a program, and a movement, whose time has come.

Since we first wrote about Create Jobs for America, Starbucks and its customers and partners have raised $11.5 million to help create jobs in the US.

What’s even better is that the $11.5 million investment has been leveraged to generate more than $80 million in loans to help create and maintain jobs in underserved American communities.

It should be duly noted that Starbucks and its foundation hasn’t accomplished this alone. Along with customers, other partners include Citi Community Development and Citi Foundation, which recently contributed $1 million to the effort, and the Opportunity Finance Network.

In our earlier post we acknowledged Schultz’s chutzpah in launching this CSR effort by titling our post,“Putting His Money Where His Mouth Is …” Since then, it’s clear this has become an even more collective effort, sparked with a new burst of  purpose and audacity.

We encourage all to continue press forward in this important social responsibility initiative. For more info, visit:
http://www.createjobsforusa.org/on/demandware.store/Sites-Createjobsusa-Site/default/Default-Start?gclid=COyA6ZGT8bACFYEKKgodsWwQWw

Speaking of Corporate Social Responsibility …

We’ve also blogged and tweeted  about Panera Bread and its growing social responsibility experiment, the Pay-What-You-Can-Cafes. We’re very pleased at the announcement that they’re converting one of their restaurants in our own backyard (Chicago) to the pay-what you can model.

We’ve said it warms our hearts when companies show that “they get it” by identifying signature corporate-giving-back efforts that not only advance their business model, but also address major social issues—in this case, poverty,  hunger, and even job training. For more details, check out Panera’s website, http://paneracares.org/what-we-do/.

A final note, while this campaign is new to us, Chevron recently garnered headlines for its “grow manufacturing jobs initiatives.” The “We Agree” campaign outlines the company’s social responsibility efforts on a variety of fronts, most particularly its $8 billion in energy production projects and jobs. Here, again, a highlight of the campaign is creating strategic partnerships to build collective action, and leverage resources for even greater impact.

Check it out for yourself. Here’s where you can find more information on “We Agree”: http://www.chevron.com/weagree/

What do you think of these CSR campaigns? Heard about others? We want to hear from you. Write us with your feedback here, or send us a Facebook update or tweet, via this post.


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