A Year in Cause & CR (Part 2)

2011 was a banner year for innovative and interesting cause marketing and corporate responsibility campaigns, from urging consumers to not buy a product to sending parents harassing text messages. In this second installment of "A Year in Cause & CR," we reveal the remaining five trends in cause marketing and corporate responsibility from 2011.

A Year in Cause & CR (Part 1)

Here at Cone Communications we spend the entire year tracking cause and corporate responsibility, and between shark fin soap and $3,500 sneakers for a cause, we’ve seen it all. Over the next two weeks, we’ll reveal our top 10 trends in cause marketing and corporate responsibility of 2011.

Turning a Crisis into an Opportunity

The Penn State child sex abuse scandal has dominated everything from mainstream news headlines, to sports talk shows, to even everyday conversation. The focus of this dialogue has largely been on how much the university has and may continue to suffer as a result of the scandal. But is it possible this crisis could be a potential opportunity for the Penn State brand to emerge better and stronger because of it?

The New, Naked Reality: Insights from #Whatsinyourstuff

The Naked Corporation was written over a decade ago, but there are signs all around us the prophesy is finally coming true. This was the topic of last week’s What’s In Your Stuff event, a panel discussion hosted by Cone Communications, on the topic of transparency, technology, and consumer behavior. As Dara O’Rourke, one of our panelists and the founder of the Good Guide put it, “The age of companies telling us what to believe about their products is going away.” At the same time, Dara acknowledged that this shift is more complex than simply releasing information about the footprint of products because consumer decisions are driven by “habit, status, and manipulation.”

Cause in Any Color

Coca-Cola made a big splash with its disruptive cause marketing campaign recently, turning its red cans white to benefit the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Yet, only a month after the campaign began and weeks before the end of the holiday season, Coke has decided to phase out the polar bear-emblazoned white cans. A new "Phase II" will return the iconic cans to their traditional color a full two months ahead of schedule.

What’s with all the mustaches?

Does something seem a little different to you this month? You may not have been able to put a finger on it at first, but then you realized there seemed to be a lot more men with mustaches walking around. The mustaches come in all shapes and sizes but have one thing in common – they are part of a growing effort to change November to “Movember.” Even better, these mustaches are meant to get men talking about prostate cancer in a fun and unique way. With roots in Melbourne, Australia in 2003 and a rapid growth globally, including to the U.S. in 2007, Movember is one of the hottest cause movements of recent note. In just eight short years, more than 1.1 million participants have helped raise $174 million and countless conversations about the cause.

Local Focus, Big Impact

Although the issues are just as pressing, it can be hard to think globally when Americans themselves grapple with a sluggish economy, unemployment, poverty and hunger. So it's understandable that the 2011 Cone/Echo Global CR Opportunity Study revealed Americans are more likely to want companies to address the quality of life locally (47% versus the global average of 36%) than nationally or globally. Responding to this demand, a number of organizations are refocusing their efforts on local communities.

Veterans Day, Every Day

As Americans across the nation today honor those who have served our country, many companies are also taking this time to give thanks to veterans in their own ways. In The New York Times, Stuart Elliot showcases at least eight Veterans Day-related campaigns currently underway, including a new way for consumers to bring "cheer" to veterans by sending postcards found on Cheerios* cereal boxes. The article also highlights a new Papa John’s campaign which will extend a special USO Meal Deal for the entire year; donating one dollar for each meal sold.

Putting Stakeholders to Work

From the raw materials producer to the end consumer, we all know sustainability is ultimately everyone's responsibility. And while companies are feeling the pressure from a variety of stakeholders to address sustainability issues, many are turning the tables to make sure key stakeholders are holding up their ends of the bargain, too.

One Step Beyond - Using Business Assets To Make Change

Consumers have spoken - when it comes to making a true and lasting difference in the world, they say look not outside, but within. In the recently launched 2011 Cone/Echo Global CR Opportunity Study, consumers prioritized changing operations as the leading way for companies to address social and environmental issues (31%), trumping traditional approaches like making donations (7%) and raising awareness (11%). These ubiquitous strategies were even beat out by applying unique assets (19%) and developing new products and services (16%).

Americans Want Companies to Address Economic Development

Three years into the global recession, it is no surprise consumers worldwide cite economic development as the one issue they want companies to support, according to the 2011 Cone/Echo Global CR Opportunity Study. Yet, Americans – more than any other country’s citizens – were the most resolute that this issue be the number one priority for companies to address (43% versus the global average of 34%).

Global Consumers Demand Greater CR: 2011 Cone/Echo Global Cr Opportunity Study

Welcome to the world of responsible business. The unequivocal takeaway from the 2011 Cone/Echo Global CR Opportunity Study, which surveyed 10,000 people in 10 countries (markets home to nearly half the world’s population), is that consumers globally believe companies have an explicit responsibility to help change the world.

How Is Social Media Changing The Cause Landscape?

It used to be that it took two to tango in a cause branding partnership – the company and the nonprofit. But today, thanks to social media, consumers are looking to cut in. As crowdsourcing allows consumers to suggest, vote for, support or criticize the union of a company and nonprofit, social media has propelled consumer engagement in cause initiatives forward – and helped to raise money and awareness for the issues along the way. But in some cases, this new player has also weakened the bond between company and nonprofit, changing the relationship from partner to beneficiary.

Supply Chain Regulation Round-up

Supply chain transparency is no longer a CR buzzword, but increasingly, a legal mandate. In the past year, legislation has been enacted to address everything from conflict minerals, to human trafficking and slavery, to bribery. BSR's managing director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Peder Michael Pruzan-Jorgensen, notes in his recent Guardian article, “Throughout these regulations and initiatives are two threads: disclosure and due diligence, both of which require increased knowledge about the supply chain and the origin of products and services.”

Companies Should Honor 9/11

There has been an intense spotlight on American companies in the last few weeks and whether and how they will pay remembrance to September 11 in a public way. Stories in The New York Times*, PRWeek and Marketing Daily, to name a few, tackled the question head on, peppered with challenging language, such as “insensitive,” “exploitative” and “taboo.” No question this is a precarious situation for brands. Society will scrutinize those that implement 9/11-focused campaigns and communications, concerned they are capitalizing on the tragedy, while questioning those who choose to remain silent. And although some efforts seem to have passed the sensitivity test so far, such as American Express’ support of the “I Will” tribute campaign or Home Depot’s “Celebration of Service,” at least one U.S. company has gotten slammed and a few more international advertisements have been deemed outright tasteless.