Looking for a CSR initiative? Think outside the box but inside the brand.

Looking for a CSR initiative? Think outside the box but inside the brand.

A few months ago, we wrote about this year’s CSR-related Super Bowl ads – and pointed out which ones did an excellent job of connecting their brands to causes that make sense with the brand. This approach is solid: our Eco Pulse study consistently reveals that 50% of Americans consider a company’s environmental reputation at some point in their purchase process, and about a third consider a company’s societal record, as well.

So, not surprisingly, we’ve recently seen more examples of excellent marriages between brands and causes. We’re sharing them here, along with our point of view on what makes them work. Enjoy!

  • Valspar paint (which is, obviously, all about color) launched its “Color for All” initiative, which raises awareness about color blindness and its impact on those affected by it. As part of the campaign, Valspar is partnering with EnChroma to give glasses that correct for color blindness to some of the 400 million people who are color blind.
  • Kohler, one of our clients, is known as a global leader in kitchen and bathroom products and design, so there’s a clear connection to water and sanitation. Kohler recently partnered with a team from Caltech (the winning team of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Reinventing the Toilet Challenge”) to provide plumbing products and design expertise to develop a solar-powered toilet for rural communities in India. (Watch Kohler’s video.)
  • SunPower, another one of our clients, designs and manufactures solar panels, and through its education services program, takes that technology into the classroom and turns it into a hands-on teaching tool. From lesson plans and teacher training to a week-long solar academy for high school students, SunPower offers a variety of ways for students to truly interact with solar technology and be exposed to future career possibilities.
  • CVS, which we’ve blogged about before, took the bold move of removing cigarettes from its shelves – an excellent example of a company putting its money where its mouth is to demonstrate its commitment to improved health. In the long run, it appears to have paid off, as increased pharmacy sales offset the loss in revenue from tobacco sales. This is an extraordinary example of where a company’s decision to do the right thing is paying off in hearts, minds and pocketbooks of consumers!
  • In contrast, Walgreens recently launched the Red Nose Day initiative (adopted from the UK) that has us scratching our heads a bit. It’s not that the cause isn’t worth supporting; we’re just having trouble seeing the connection between humor (as demonstrated through red clown noses), child poverty and the chain’s value proposition. They’ve partnered with NBC to sponsor what appears to be a variety show/fundraising event that will be televised in late May. So, while there will be significant exposure for Walgreens (in accordance with a hefty sponsorship fee that was no doubt involved), we anticipate it will lead to little if any bump in brand affinity for the pharmacy chain. Too much gimmick and far too little connection to the brand and the cause it’s supporting.

If you have other examples of good (or bad) CSR campaigns, share them in the comments below!



Posted on

April 30, 2015

About the Author

Martha Wampler Behm

Martha is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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