TRENDS AND ISSUES IN THE WORLD
OF CORPORATE REPORTING
BRANDS – A COAT OF
FRESH GREEN PAINT
OR THE NEW STRATEGIC
D B ONS
Directions Monthly May 2007 Issue 12
Corporate responsibility in advertising
With just about every brand now rushing to promote its environmental,
ethical and responsibility credentials, we thought it was time to assess
how much substance there really is to it all.
In this specially extended edition of Directions Monthly we take a look at
how deep CR really does go in these organisations and we try to identify
what is strategic, and therefore likely to be sustainable, versus what is
just opportunistic greenwash. To do this we have taken a (admittedly
unscientific and subjective) look at advertising campaigns from around
the world. These are our views as practitioners in the field of CR. But we
don’t have to produce advertising for these companies, so we’ve also got
an expert’s view. We have invited Cilla Snowball, Chairman of AMV.BBDO,
to give us an insight into how two of her agency’s clients have
approached the integration of aspects of CR into their consumer
propositions – and it’s interesting stuff.
Nigel Salter Lucie Harrild
With corporate responsibility now playing a key role in mainstream
consumer advertising there can no longer be any doubt about its
contribution to a company or a brand’s reputation and success.
Mass market campaigns now feature
messages from the full range of CR issues:
ethics, environment, social responsibility,
climate change, and values are all being used A MORI poll in January
to help market products. And there are some
obvious reasons why this new wave of ethical
2005 reported that only
adverts are being produced. A MORI poll in 5% of the UK population
January 2005 reported that only 5% of the said the environment was
UK population said the environment was ‘the
most important issue facing Britain’. In ‘the most important issue
January 2007, this had nearly quadrupled to
19%. And a new WPP study shows that climate
facing Britain’. In January
Nigel Salter change is now the number one issue that UK 2007, this had nearly
consumers are hearing about – with 85%
hearing about it. A recent report by quadrupled to 19%.
management consultancy Arthur D Little also
explained how it saw leading companies and
innovators moving beyond the original
parameters of corporate responsibility. The
report argues that real innovators are now
focusing on what it terms the corporate
responsibility opportunity or CRO. Their
insight is accurate although their terminology
is pure jargon.
This all points to the fact that CR now has fully
fledged commercial wings and it’s not rocket
science to work out why. We think the real
challenge is to identify what actually works
and how to tell the difference between hot air
and hot ideas...
Directions Monthly May 2007 Issue 12
An overview from salterbaxter…
(A selection of campaigns reviewed and dissected)
salterbaxter green rating guide 1 Dove itself along the side of the car to clean it all
off. The ad finishes with a focus on the line
The campaign for real beauty ‘Peugeot 206 HDi – Clean technology.
Bleeds green Deep green (www.campaignforrealbeauty.co.uk) Nature will remember’.
What I like about this campaign is that it
isn’t a defensive response to an awkward This is a classic case of a company simply
subject. It’s true there was an issue for all trying to paint on some environmental
Wishy-washy green Puke green fashion and cosmetics brands to think credentials. There may have been some
about – but this wasn’t an obvious response. improvements to the car’s technology but
This is a good contrast to the effective but in essence it’s the same product that has
slightly defensive response of oil firms been marketed without the environmental
talking about future energy sources. credentials for years. This is the sort of
opportunistic adoption of a topical subject
Dove’s campaign features real women (not that most consumers see straight through.
models) and celebrates each one’s unique Not strategic and not particularly
beauty. This taps into the very real debate imaginative.
about how female models are too thin and
how the world’s preoccupation with skinny
waifs has contributed to undermining
female self-esteem. Dove’s ads have also
been adapted in clever ways to suit 3 Chevron
different markets and challenge local Will you join us
stereotypes. In Japan the campaign (www.willyoujoinus.com)
broached the subject of eyelid surgery
and in Brazil they featured a woman with This campaign has been run across most
small breasts. media but it all ties in to a website where
Chevron state ‘To deliver the world’s
Dove has also now launched a fund to help energy, we need yours first’. The site also
organisations which address eating and features a brilliant counter device which
self-esteem issues. shows how much oil and gas has been
consumed globally during your visit to the
To me this campaign is genuinely strategic site. The site is then basically a debate
as it has completely re-directed the way in forum which airs views and analyses all the
which this brand is talking to its customers. issues relating to the subject of the world’s
It’s got substance. It’s focused on well energy needs.
defined issues which are relevant. It’s
groundbreaking and it has got proper As mentioned earlier, whatever the oil
follow through outside the purely companies do has a hint of the defensive
marketing aspects. This one works – and I’d because of the nature of this debate, so
go further. This is one of the best examples cynics could just brush this campaign aside
of the social and commercial combining to as ‘they would say that wouldn’t they’. But
make a brand story more effective. there is real substance here and the open-
ended debate approach could be argued to
be less arrogant than BP’s ‘beyond
2 Peugeot This campaign is thoughtful, it has serious
The Peugeot 206 HDi – ‘Le Mouton’ contributions from academic and other
(www.peugeot.fr) sources and it doesn’t shirk some of the
difficult points. A good reference point for
Run in France, this campaign shows a car any company seeking to engage in a debate
parked in the countryside. It gets sprayed in rather than just pontificate.
mud and is then approached by a sheep.
The sheep looks at the mud then wipes
Directions Monthly May 2007 Issue 12
An overview from salterbaxter
4 GE 6 HSBC So where’s this
GE ecomagination HSBC Green Sale
all taking us?
This was a special campaign run from
GE made a big noise about its investment December 2006 to January 2007 Things appear to be moving very fast. I think
into R&D for green technologies and this is featuring a green paw print and explaining that even 12 months ago the picture for this
the campaign that backs it all up. that for every product bought through the testing of the temperature would have given a
green sale a sum of money would be remarkably cold reading. But there is no doubt
From water desalination to energy efficient donated to nominated charities. I was that the full range of social and environmental
lighting GE is now pouring millions of rather surprised by this campaign as HSBC issues are now factored into mainstream
dollars into new products that help to have taken a generally sensible position in advertising and brand campaigns – and
tackle environmental/sustainability issues. the CR debate. increasingly as the fundamental strategy. The
So this is grounded in real change and is Diesel campaign also shows it’s already being
possibly the most impressive commercial As far as I can see, this campaign is just parodied, a sure sign it’s in the mainstream.
response from any major industrial opportunistic – a poor attempt to sell more
company to this issue. There is obviously products on the back of donations to The big public issue of our times is climate
huge financial potential in getting this charity. This isn’t innovative and I’d be very change and this will undoubtedly register as
right too, so the advertising is crucial. surprised if it worked (happy to be told a big area of focus in the coming years. But
otherwise though). Surely most people just does this usher in an era where companies will
And the campaign doesn’t disappoint. see through this type of approach. be competing on climate friendly credentials?
There are numerous different ads and they
all paint an exciting picture of how The campaign was also confusing as it I think it probably does.
technology can be applied to solve some didn’t really make clear which products
big environmental challenges. There’s a it related to anyway. There appears to be a genuine transformation
real spirit of adventure to the campaign of the landscape taking place. The key in all
and it shows that green issues and All in all I think this is pretty disappointing this though is that consumers will see through
technology don’t have to be boring. and it certainly doesn’t communicate a the companies that are simply applying a light
clear-sighted, planned strategy from the green wash to help re-package existing
This is again a perfect example of a bank. Surprising, as much of the work products. The test is whether or not the
company working on the CR opportunity, they’ve done in the CR field is based on product is being dressed up or whether the
bringing commercial thinking to bear on good substance. approach has deeper strategic roots. Dove’s
some serious CR issues. I was just slightly approach was a full re-appraisal and
concerned that some of the reality of what re-definition of the brand’s proposition.
was being done wasn’t matching the hype HSBC’s green sale was just opportunistic.
– but I don’t want to be too cynical. This is
firmly rooted in business strategy and is a 7 Diesel I think responsible and ethical credentials
powerful commercial proposition. Diesel Climate change ready are becoming the most important brand
(www.diesel.com/#/globalwarming) battleground for the coming years. But
responsibility is becoming an essential though
I’d also like to make a special mention not sufficient ingredient for a successful
of the new Diesel ‘Climate change ready’ brand. Innovators will see this and really get
5 Ford campaign. Featuring it’s range of skimpy
and cut back summer clothing this campaign
to grips with the massive opportunity
Ford Escape Hybrid presented. The followers will be found out.
should stand as the best reminder to all of
(www.ford.com) us not to take ourselves seriously – and Miss out on this transformation,
A US ad for the hybrid mini 4x4. I don’t that irony and humour are rarely out of underestimate it or get it wrong at your peril.
want to pick on the car industry but this is place. Top marks.
an appalling example of some green gloss
being applied. Yes the car is more fuel
efficient but the ad actually features
Kermit the frog (for no other reason than
he’s green) and then at the end of the ad
the blue Ford logo turns green before your
eyes! To my mind this ad actually does a
complete disservice to the technology
that’s been applied to the car. This is
almost a caricature of the stereotyped
view of environmental issues – unless it’s
being ironic? Possibly the best example
I’ve seen of how not to address the
CR/environmental agenda in marketing.
Directions Monthly May 2007 Issue 12
The view from the practitioner…
We’re working on more and more CR campaigns with our
clients and CR is definitely moving from corporate affairs silo
to mainstream consumer and marketing priority.
We’ve been working on CR programmes with
our clients for several years now. It’s not a Case study 1
new phenomenon. Responsibility goes right
to the heart of brand strategy and recognises Sainsbury’s
the crucial role of business in making a
difference in society. The ‘win-win’ is mutual
Consumers are driving this and increasingly
making ethical considerations in buying
decisions. And they do so with conviction
and enthusiasm – worthwhile doesn’t have
Cilla Snowball to be worthy.
Active Kids for Sainsbury’s shows what can We are a society obsessed by the food we
happen when an organisation gives its eat and the health consequences of the
thousands of colleagues and millions of wrong decisions. Many brands have been
customers the tools to make the difference. caught in the storm around unhealthy
It is fun, worthwhile and it works at an food and its particular consequences for
individual and brand level, in schools and in our children.
Media coverage is overwhelmingly about
The Diageo Responsible Drinking initiative, unhealthy food, but research showed that
whilst different in tone and message also people were consuming fewer calories
recognises a commitment and ambition to than in the past – the issue was they were
address a major societal issue with compelling exercising much less. Sainsbury’s believed
and relevant communication. that to compete in the future, retailers
would have to get serious about health
We’re working on more and more CR by focusing both on food and activity.
campaigns with our clients and CR is
definitely moving from corporate affairs A great cause-related idea would have
silo to mainstream consumer and two elements:
1 a scheme with genuine benefits
to the cause; and
2 the involvement of Sainsbury’s
shoppers to enable Sainsbury’s both
to fund and profit from the scheme
(a genuine win-win).
We created a scheme dedicated to the
cause of kids activity (not just sport),
administered through schools –
Sainsbury’s Active Kids.
The more you spent in-store, the more
vouchers you got. Customers decided
which schools receive vouchers and hence
which benefit most. Schools decided what
to spend the vouchers on, ‘buying’ goods
from a catalogue administered by a third
Directions Monthly May 2007 Issue 12
Sainsbury’s Active Kids Success for the business
continued The scheme has generated an increase
in fruit and veg sales, up 10% during the
Each Sainsbury’s store had an Active Kids weeks of the campaign in response to
‘champion’ – a colleague responsible for the double points offer on these items.
co-ordinating store activities, and This was a unique part of the Sainsbury’s
reaching out into the community served scheme and reflected a balanced
by the store and working with local commitment to healthy food and activity
schools. Active Kids was communicated to in tandem. The more Sainsbury’s
Sainsbury’s customers in advertising and customers have spent, the more vouchers
communication featuring Kelly Holmes. they have been able to donate to local
Active Kids was at the centre of the schools, building strong links between the
Sainsbury’s brand during the campaign store and the community.
period, advertised on TV and promoted
in-store. In 2007, the scheme will develop further,
with the Active Kids catalogue available to
Success for the cause Scout and Guide groups and now including
80% of UK schools are registered and cooking equipment to help promote the
27,000 schools have placed 31,000 orders education of healthy eating.
for equipment from the Active Kids
catalogue. The long-term implications of Sainsbury’s
involvement could be dramatic. Active Kids
Active Kids has increased activity rates in could be seen in the future as a turning
schools, not only in primary schools, but point in the health of Britain’s kids as the
also in the much tougher secondary school creativity and scale of Sainsbury’s were
environment. Teachers have reported applied to the problem to the mutual
improvements in both these areas. 56% benefit of brand, business and cause.
of primary school teachers and 34% of
secondary school teachers report that kids
have become more positive about physical
activity. 64% of primary school teachers
and 39% of secondary school teachers 64% of primary school
report that kids have become more
interested in healthy eating as a result of
teachers and 39% of
the scheme. secondary school
The simplest effect of the scheme has teachers report that
been to make physical activity more
enjoyable for kids – 71% of primary school
kids have become more
teachers report that this has been the case interested in healthy
(it’s a tougher task in secondary schools,
but 46% of teachers there report eating as a result of
Directions Monthly May 2007 Issue 12
Case study 2 The work ran as a pilot test in London,
Manchester and Nottingham last year for
Diageo two months and is planned to run
throughout the UK from 1 May 2007 on
Responsible Drinking terrestrial and satellite channels.
The ambition: Treated responsibly, alcohol Work that works
is associated with enjoyment and Evaluation of the 2006 pilot revealed that
celebration, but it is common knowledge communicating responsible drinking
that excessive or inappropriate messages through advertising can be an
consumption can cause health and social effective way of raising awareness and
problems for individuals and society. As changing individuals’ attitudes to alcohol
the world’s leading premium drinks consumption.
business, Diageo wants to be at the
forefront of industry efforts to promote The evaluation found that after watching
responsible drinking. Their approach is the two executions:
based on the following key principles:
• 57% of people said they would
• set world-class standards for responsible reconsider how they drink as a result
marketing and innovation of the campaign
• combat alcohol misuse, working with • 75% said the campaign made them
others on initiatives to reduce alcohol- question their drinking habits
related harm • 93% thought it was important to
• seek to promote a shared understanding consume alcohol beverages within
of what it means to drink responsibly. sensible limits.
AMV.BBDO work with Diageo to deliver The adverts have been recognised across
integrated pan-European communication the industry for their role in promoting
campaigns to fulfil the last of these responsible drinking, with ‘Mirror’ being
principles. awarded the 2006 Drinks Business Award
for Responsible Drinking Message.
‘Mirror’ shows a young woman observing The evaluation also demonstrated that
The evaluation also herself at a house party. At first she is consumers are eager for the drinks
having fun, but then she becomes industry to play a role in promoting
demonstrated that ashamed by her behaviour, this is responsible drinking – in fact 92% of
consumers are eager completed with the strapline ‘Make sure
you like what you see’. A male execution
people surveyed thought it was good to
see an alcohol beverage company
for the drinks industry ‘Many Me’ was also developed by the Irish advertising responsible drinking messages.
agency Language. The two adverts were
to play a role in designed to reflect alcohol consumption
promoting responsible both in the on and off trade.