Article on Ad Age: Corporate Social…Opportunity?


The Good Works section of Advertising Age’s website recently had an article titled, Corporate Social Responsibility is Dead: Long live corporate social responsibility.  The article was written by Tim Sanders, author of the book “Saving the World at Work.” (which I haven’t yet read but just purchased!).

The article is based on his belief that the wave of CSR that largely involved reporting on all of the good things a company was doing with regards to their community, the environment, etc. in an annual report, are coming to an end.  He purports that the next wave of CSR is actually something he terms corporate social opportunity.  The way he describes it is like this:

Picking the right walk, then talking about it (strategy plus marketing) is the key. Long live CSO: corporate social opportunities. CSO should be a marketing function, designed to seek out the cutting edge of brand innovation — where a company’s assets intersect with the greater community’s needs. When you find this match, you can produce a sustainable program that inspires sales while it makes a difference.

Right on!  Readers of this blog will know that this is my vision of what good CSR can and should be.  Companies should leverage opportunities to align their brands and their resources with the needs of their community, both because it’s good to do and because it can help inspire brand loyalty and sales.

He continues to state:

As long as marketing is involved on the back end, a positive feedback loop can be created where the company connects with cause, which inspires customers to connect with company. This is likely the future of corporate social opportunity, from taking care of employees (think health care coverage as a CSO) to boosting local communities (think sharing education resources as a CSO) to helping save the planet (think recycling as a CSO). In the end, the business value aligns with the do-gooder in people — helping to create a new breed of sustainability that won’t be canceled or cut to the bone the next time the economy swoons.

I’m glad we have an articulate and widely read advocate for this vision of corporate social responsibility.  I’m a firm believer that if CSR is NOT aligned with the brand and the business, CSR initiatives are at risk to be placed by the wayside at a change of leadership, tough-economic times, or at a whim.  But if an initiative is an integral representation of the brand, the CSR activity should (I hope) continue to persist and make an impact in the community and in the ledger.

How does this relate to the World Cup?  Like I’ve written in earlier posts, I think there are many opportunities for World Cup sponsors (and non-sponsors) to conduct CSR initiatives that align with their brand and can do some real good in the country.  I haven’t seen many manifestations of this yet nor have been impressed with what I have seen so far, but with about 10 months before the games, I can still be hopeful that major World Cup and FIFA sponsors will step up their games and identify and embrace the Corporate Social Opportunities that are out there.

Full article can be found here:

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