Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not a new concept.
CSR is a form of business accountability that identifies how well companies are upholding social etiquette and societal norms, while complying with regulations and improving a particular community or advancing a certain cause. For decades, retailers and brands like ModCloth and Warby Parker have invested in local communities as part of a CSR program. The decision to participate in these programs has had positive effects on the perception of involved companies.
In a report by Business for Social Responsibility, the firm discussed the idea that brands can use principles to build trust and loyalty among customers. Also in the report, BSR highlights three areas for advertisers to hone in on: enhancing transparency, audience empowerment, and purpose. Cone Communications found that 82% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase products from a company that shows the results of CSR initiatives, compared to one that does not.
Each year, during the Super Bowl, companies spend millions of dollars for a 30-second advertising spot.
Last year, UZ, Product (RED), and Bank of America asked consumers to download a free song on iTunes within a 24-hour window. The result was a $3 million donation to provide HIV/AIDS treatment and testing to some of the world’s poorest countries. Chevy’s commercial raised awareness for World Cancer Day and directed viewers to a website for more information to get involved.
This year, during the 50th Super Bowl, multiple companies showcased their impact (or lack of) on the environment and community, rather than promotions or product demonstrations.
Colgate broadcasted a commercial to save water. According to the ad, leaving the water running while brushing your teeth can waste 4 gallons of water – which is “more water than many people around the world have in a week.”
Beverage alcohol companies also ride the CSR wave. Despite seeming popularity of the puppies, Budweiser released a commercial with Helen Mirren to warn consumers against drunk driving. Mirren called anyone that drives drunk a “short-sighted, utterly useless, oxygen-wasting human form of pollution.” Budweiser took it a step further. The beer giant partnered with Twitter to create a campaign – every time the #GiveADamn hashtag was used, Budweiser donated $1 to safe ride programs.
The No More advocacy group took a stand with a clever advertisement teaching viewers how to recognize the signs of domestic violence. Although the NFL donated the time, it was an important message from an organization that’s recently handled multiple scandals related to abuse.
Some other corporate social responsibility principles promoted in advertisements include Patagonia, which encourages consumers to wear and donate worn clothing, continuing with its anti-overconsumption messaging; and Chipotle, which promotes sustainable farming. Similarly, luxury brands are working to incorporate sustainability into business models.
Often, marketing strategy and in-store decisions are affected by organizational direction, and with that CSR tactics. To monitor execution and track compliance, mobile data collection tools are invaluable. Real-time insights will enable understanding of how in-store performance aligns with brand objectives and consumer perception.