It’s no secret that women’s rights and female empowerment have taken center stage in today’s society. Just this past weekend hundreds of thousands of women and men, again took to the streets to across the US to make their voices heard on human rights, gender equality and parity, immigration reform, healthcare, reproductive rights, racial and LGBT equality and countless other issues. This coming at a time when movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp are galvanizing women globally to elicit real change—igniting a spark that’s led to the groundswell for women’s rights we’re experiencing today.
Every year 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste is generated worldwide, but only 12.5 percent of that ends up being repurposed in other products. To narrow this gap and raise awareness on the growing issue among consumers, companies are coming up with creative ways to close the loop. Now, one electronics brand is bringing the e-waste issue to life in a flashy, unexpected way while tackling a problem prevalent in its industry.
Although it may seem counterintuitive for a company to discourage consumers from buying its products, we have seen this strategy work in brands’ favors in the past – Patagonia’s “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign resulted in an overwhelming positive response from consumers who took extra time to learn about the brand’s mission before making a purchase. Now, one company with a notoriously controversial product is attempting to pivot its business model to be more socially responsible – and marketing directly to consumers during this transition.
Patagonia is no stranger to bold Purpose marketing campaigns. From “Don’t Buy this Jacket” to “100% for the Planet,” this is a brand that is not afraid to take a risk to stand up for what it believes in. This week, we saw the company take its boldest stance yet, not only directly calling out the President of the United States for “an illegal move” but also announcing it will sue the administration. Yet, for those who track the company, this endeavor should not come as a huge surprise – in fact, the latest announcement is just the next phase of a multi-year consumer engagement campaign, calling on its informed, loyal consumer base for support.
Although it emerged as a top corporate sustainability priority for 2017, respecting and promoting human rights is no easy feat. It involves actively working across supply chains, from owned operations to first-tier suppliers and all the way down into the extended supply chain where raw materials are produced. Given the complexities around the supplier ecosystem, it is not surprising that many businesses struggle to effectively address, tackle and communicate around the issue.
Since it launched in 2012, #GivingTuesday has grown to become a recognized day of giving back in the U.S. and around the world. Last year, charities raised $180 million —an increase of 44% over the previous year. Now, what started out as a day focused on nonprofits has garnered the attention of companies as well. This year we saw companies create fun and unique ways to invite consumers to purchase while giving back on one of the biggest giving days of the year. Here are a few campaigns that caught our eye:
During 2017 there has been increased focus on the Sustainable Development Goals and how companies can lead the charge. Many companies are working to improve their supply chains, but rarely share the progress with consumers at the product level. Recently, one company was able to create a supply chain innovation and design a product that shares the initiative with consumers in an easy, accessible way.
This week, Cone headed to the MGM National Harbor in Maryland to participate in this year's COMMIT!Forum – a two day conference focused onthe role of the corporate responsibility practitioner as companies aim to make their voices heard. The theme of the conference was "Brands Taking Stands" – certainly apropos given today's business and political environment. As the conference wraps, we're leaving with a renewed energy and commitment to the field but also a few important takeaways.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall a week ago but the damage it leaves behind will not dissipate so quickly. The storm is a one-in-1,000 year rain event, dumping 24.5 trillion gallons of rain and displacing countless individuals in its wake. As relief workers begin to grapple with the scale of the disaster, the cry for help is urgent and widespread. This call extends to companies who are stepping up by providing money, in-kind donations and solutions.
Many fast food companies have started to address consumers’ desires to eat more consciously – and Panera has been on the frontlines of helping consumers make better dining choices. What started with the “No No List” has evolved into a series of commitments to take ‘clean eating’ mainstream. And the café chain isn’t stopping anytime soon. The next step in the menu cleanup process is focused on informing consumers about Panera’s beverage options with each sip they take.
In the lead-up to National Honey Bee Day (August 19), I was inspired to take a look at brands’ recent efforts to ensure the health and stability of our tiny pollinator friends. In the past few years, we have seen a host of organizations garnering attention for the issue, first with research and later, amped-up efforts with highly visible, consumer-facing campaigns to bridge the awareness gap.
In the last several years, the meal kit industry has grown exponentially with the rise of companies like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Plated and PeachDish (to name just a few). Meal kits are big business – a $1.5 billion industry projected to grow. That’s a lot of cardboard, plastic and freezer gel. However, recent news and industry temperature checks show I might not be the only one hitting pause on the weekly delivery.
In 2016, we saw nontraditional sustainability reports gain traction with Patagonia's report, which swapped the text-heavy format for an image-laden report focusing on action and the outdoors. But the stand-out activation was Heineken’s video featuring a Dutch rapper and spoken word artist who delivered the report stats in a concise and compelling way. This year, the brewing company is taking an even more interactive approach – serving up data in a fun and entertaining way.
An estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the oceans each year, making ocean trash a serious environmental threat to the ecosystem and the many islands that depend on pristine beaches to boost tourism. In the past, organizations have combated the issue by educating tourists and individuals who feel removed from the issue. But now, one partnership is tackling problems on the ground while also addressing the source of the issue.
Air pollution remains an unseen global killer – with nearly 6.5 million deaths a year attributed to pollution we breathe every day – that's four times the amount of people killed on the world's roads, according to The Guardian. In fact, in the U.K. alone, high levels of NO2 cause more than 60 premature deaths a day.
This week, the Cone Communications team headed out to Sustainable Brands in Detroit for four days of conversation around "Redefining the Good Life." From inspirational plenaries to tours experiencing the resurgence of Detroit, the week focused on what a new “good life” could mean – a shift from “better, faster, more” to perhaps a new definition focused on authenticity and mindful simplicity.
2017 will be remembered as the year that corporate social responsibility (CSR) was once again redefined. Although CSR will always be grounded in business operations, the stakes have gotten a lot higher. Companies must now share not only what they stand for, but what they stand up for.
Last week, sustainability leaders from around the world gathered at the Ceres Conference in San Francisco to compare notes and strategize about how to tackle some of our most pressing challenges – from water scarcity and resource depletion to the mounting impacts of climate change.
Increasingly, today’s diverse workforce is looking for employers to provide purpose in the workplace and to help them make a difference at work, at home and in the community. And, for good reason, more companies are taking notice: highly engaged employees are 38 percent more likely to have above-average productivity and 87 percent less likely to leave the organization.
Today marks the beginning of Fashion Revolution Week remembering the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which many deem the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry. The tragedy, which took place on April 24, 2013, brought the fashion industry’s supply chain issues to light and sparked a global conversation between companies, consumers and workers.