Cause-related promotions and light-hearted campaigns have dominated much of the cause landscape this year as many companies took a “back-to-basics” approach to cause to drive short-term sales and loyalty. However, amid all the creative cause campaigns are the stirrings of a new crop of companies who, understanding their shared role in addressing crucial world issues, are stepping up to the plate to understand, to engage, to collaborate and to solve. These are the game-changers.
Two examples in the news this week:
P&G – No question, P&G is a cause leader with many of its brands executing some of the most creative and powerful campaigns in the marketplace today (e.g., Pampers’ One Pack = One Vaccine). But these campaigns all have their roots in a deeper corporate philosophy - P&G’s “purpose-inspired growth” strategy, which emphasizes the company’s culture and values as drivers for innovation and sales. New CEO Bob McDonald states, “We will provide branded products of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world’s consumers, now and for generations to come. As a result, consumers will reward us with leadership sales, profit and value creations, allowing our people, our shareholders, and the communities in which we live and work to prosper.”
Merck & Co. – The pharmaceutical giant announced a partnership with British nonprofit the Wellcome Trust, to create affordable vaccines against diseases common in underdeveloped countries. Both partners will make equal cash contributions for the project, but what is most powerful is the “shared responsibility” approach this project requires. It will engage governments, charities, universities and other for-profit pharmaceutical companies for additional funding and solutions. Merck spokeswoman Amy Rose says, "The goal here is to involve a number of parties that would be interested in the success of vaccines in the developing world.”
"Shared responsibility” is about identifying the right opportunities to engage stakeholders and to collaborate to solve the world’s most pressing issues. It’s about being part of the solution, without going it alone. In these examples, company goals are not lost, but rather enhanced through collaboration, stakeholder engagement and a focus on innovation. These companies are not only supporting important social or environmental issues. They are also changing the way they – and others – do business.