Is it about making a difference?

13 Dec

“It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” (Tom Brokaw)

What do you expect from those who can make a difference? Would it be morally wrong if large organisations were never to give back?

The topic on today’s agenda is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).  No doubt a topic you will have consciously never heard of, however something you will definitely be accustomed too.


“The policy and practice of a corporation’s social involvement over and
beyond its legal obligations for the benefit of the society at large”. (Enderle and Tavis, 1998)

Constantly we see large corporations such as Coca Cola doing their bit! The question is how much do they want to do? And what are the underlying reasons for doing it?

We constantly witness organisations who adopt CSR’s ranting and raving about them in an attempt to generate positive  associations between them and their goodwill;  meaning that these organisations have the ability to increase sales, suppliers, and stakeholders… However, how long does the goodwill remain goodwill and not just a marketing ploy? 

Companies like Shell have obvious moral responsibilities which are to ‘clean up’ and work to prevent any further problems, which I feel they undertake. Why are they then constantly attacked by the media? Don’t get me wrong, I love wildlife and I do not condone any kind of cruelty (like oil spills); however from what I have seen these oil companies don’t choose to spill oil, sometimes it just happens, maybe an effect of the high demand!  At the end of the day I believe that these companies would always try their best to prevent further disasters, because at the end of the day if for nothing else they are losing money!  Is their ‘proactiveness’ though about CSR or money?

Let’s think about Sainsburys

The advert clearly demonstrates Sainsbury’s acts of CSR over the last 140 years, which are now being used as marketing strategies. Generalizing this issue I would say that organisations are continually adopting CSR’s as a way of conveying their ethical issues in an attempt to satisfy the values of their stakeholders. It wasn’t until the early noughties that they began supporting fair trade, free range hens, and the environment therefore engaging in acts of CSR which reflected increasing societal issues. Do organisations such as Sainsburys really want to go to the trouble of designing reusable bags and supporting fair trade or would they just look ridiculously bad if they didn’t?

What about Philanthropy?

“Philanthropy is a charitable act not necessarily linked to the expectations of society” (Tench and Yeomans, 2009, p.101)

To me I’m not 100% sure whether something can be classed as a charitable act if you’re going to get something tangible from it. I’m not talking about the general public donating a fiver to Children in Need which in result makes them feel amazing. I’m talking about the huge organisations that are willing to take part in charitable causes only when there is a positive outcome for them.

Organisations are constantly monitored on Return of Investment (ROI) because let’s face it times are hard, no one has any money and the money  people do have needs to be ploughed into investments which can  deliver a return. It therefore begs the question, to what extent are organisations getting involved in philanthropic acts to just simply do it? For me the answer is simple; they’re not. Take a look at this advert by Sainsburys….

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that Sainsbury’s are getting involved in comic relief, but the problem for me is are they just getting involved for the overall benefits it will have on them? Maybe I’m cynical and just dying for a debate, but as someone who wants to go into PR I think that it’s important to consider what people actually think about these acts of CSR and Philanthropy. Do we actually fall for it? Would it be enough for us to just walk into the supermarket and see they are selling “text Santa” hats, or do we need to be told? Yeah I’m also an advertising student and I fully understand why they do it, however my concern is are we told too much? Can’t they just do it and not brag about it? Or has the world become so ruthless that they need to in order to remain a competitor?…


6 Responses to “Is it about making a difference?”

  1. Lisa December 14, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    Hi Michaela,

    I just wanted to give my opinion. Although I see through Corporate Social Responsibility I would say that this doesn’t stop me valuing it. Like you said its about giving something back to society so why should we criticise companies who want to do that?

    • michomoom December 15, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

      Hi Lisa,

      Thank you for your comment!

      I’m not criticising theses companies who are adopting CSR, its just to my belief that these companies do it with hidden agendas. Its great that they are giving back to society I just wanted to address an alternative view which was, do they actually want to do it and if so for what reasons?

  2. Jo December 14, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    HIgh five on the post!

    Now down to business, CSR is something that companies need to be thinking about.
    I just hate it when companies ram it down your throat! I believe a good CSR reputation comes from a wholesome company, it should be the personality behind them as a brand. Innocent smoothies are a good example. A not so good example would be Pizza Hut, for a month a year they add on somewhere between 10-20 pence on to every bill. That is the only time I every hear of them doing anything for charity, other than children in need or red nose day, and I work there!

    • michomoom December 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

      Hi Jo,

      Thank you for your comment!

      I 100% agree with you that CSR is about the brand personality. I like your example of Pizza Hut, however as a ‘PR Person’ I’m interested to know if you would describe this as Cause Related Marketing rather than CSR?

      I once read somewhere that unlike CSR, CRM activities are considered an expense and therefore they are expected to show a return of investment. Therefore would you say that Pizza Hut actually do any charitable work such as Philanthropy or would you say its just all about money for them?

  3. Meg December 14, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    I think it is great for companies to spread the word about charity days like Red Nose Day etc, IF they are going to give the majority of the proceeds to the charity, but otherwise I think its just another excuse for them to get more profit while feeling good about themselves, like Christmas, Valentines, Easter etc aren’t enough!

    At the end of the day, if people want to donate to charity then they will donate to charity, we don’t need to bombarded with commercials to do it.

    • michomoom December 15, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

      Hi Meg,

      Thank you for your comment!

      I totally agree with you, but on the other hand I totally understand why they do advertise it! Like I said to Lisa, its great that they get involved in such activities its just the reason why which I have a problem with. As I just said to Jo, Cause Related Marketing is classed as an investment however I think that CSR is also classed as an investment because like I said in the blog, why would they spend time and resources for no return? Even if it is just for satisfied stakeholders.

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