Article

Dr. Islam Gouda
Dr. Islam Gouda 21 May 2020

Optimising CSR Campaigns: Doing Good the Right Way

When doing CSR, companies should focus on the shareholders and the engagement with people. They have to pick and choose the best options that represents their brand in the best, most relevant way and not randomly engage in activities that might seem to be good but do not relate to the core of what the company is doing, otherwise this will result in a negative outcome.

The first and most important thing when evaluating a company’s marketing activities (for me) is to look at their CSR campaigns, it really determines the amount of focus they have and their understanding of their own mission and objectives when reaching to their customers.

There is a big problem when any company does not have a CSR campaign, but it is a crisis when they have one which is totally irrelevant to their offering of products and services. The core definition of a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) campaign is to provide to the community by belonging to it, giving something back in appreciation of doing business and being compassionate with what troubles that community by being part of the solution “with my business”.

The purpose is not to look good in front of the customers; the main purpose is to give back to the community which will make business eventually better. If companies however, truly understood the difference between both, we would not see the following examples. 

Holiday Inn Celebrates Extraordinary Journey with #JourneyOn Social Campaign

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I was reading in the news about this campaign, where Holiday Inn the (international hotel chain) came up with this multimillion dollars campaign of highlighting the extraordinary journeys of people who dealt with setbacks in their lives and overcomes them. My question(s) was, how relevant was this campaign to Holiday Inn – what are their motives to do such a campaign, is there any occasion in the year which made them think of this, did they have extra money to spend but did not know what to do? The idea is not to criticise Holiday Inn for doing good, but what they did is doing it in the wrong way. They gave support and recognition away of their brand and the core activities they do to create a buzz around the brand probably to attract and remind customers of their brand in this time of the year to use the “Holiday Inn” brand when in vacation.

How they should have done it?

As a hotel chain, my core activities are around the idea of providing housing, this is the core brand, this is what “we” as Holiday Inn do, being the home of many people around the globe. An effective CSR campaign was to build homes to the poor with the Holiday Inn touch on it in the communities Holiday Inn operates in – with the motto of providing a home for the people of the world. Wouldn’t that be better? Me as the Holiday Inn brand would have provided memorable experiences to millions of people around the world, helped the needy with what I provide best, and made my customers happier when staying with me knowing that the brand they have chosen is socially responsible.  

Coca-Cola ties with WWF for polar bear CSR campaign

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Another example of a CSR which would pass by the audience with no much care, and would only attract those with a cause in Animals rights, but that is not the purpose again. The question is, why Coca Cola did this campaign, how relevant it is to its brand, what was the motive, and how would they give back the community they are part of and belong to with what represents them as a beverages company? Not having an answer to these questions takes away the good deed and makes the effort made, the money paid, and the time invested a waste. I am sure of their good intentions when doing such a campaign, but does it represent them?  

How they should have done it?  

As Coca Cola, my objective is to cease the thirst of millions of people around the world by providing a cold and refreshing drink; we bring together the families on meals, in their outings, we are a big part of their experience and we complete their gatherings. There are children in Africa who don’t have such capacity of enjoying with their families, because they are poor and most importantly because resources are scarce – there is no clean water for them to drink rather to enjoy. Our mission as Coca Cola is to make that happen, create sources of water for the poor to create memories, to promote the Coca Cola enjoyable memories that truly brings families together.  

Why CSR Campaigns’ Strategies Don’t Work?  

The focus of a CSR campaign is not on doing “just” good, the focus is contribution, communicating to the stakeholders and being part of them. Below, are the major reasons why such campaigns don’t work.  

1. The lack of engagement (shareholders)  

When doing a CSR campaign, my purpose is not publicize doing a good deed, otherwise the CSR itself would be considered just another marketing campaign. As a company, I should be aware of my goals and objectives, products and services, and my role towards the community of making it better with who I am. So, it is important to align these core objectives and mission with the right stakeholders to be congruent with what I do – which will later reflect on “me” as a company be being prosperous.  

2. The lack of transparency  

When the audience sleeps and then wakes up next day to see a brand doing something good just for the sake of it, there is actually no transparency which raises questions. A true CSR campaign depends on making the people aware of why we are doing these deeds, what are their benefits, and how is that relevant to our brand. Don’t alienate the people from your equation and expect them to follow just because you are doing good, a CSR is for the people, for the communities, and strengthens the fact that you as a company belong to them.

3. Allowing marketers to do CSR  

Marketers are good in marketing, they can lead CSR initiatives, but they cannot plan for an effective CSR campaign. A dedicated CSR team should be in place with research capabilities to understand the needs of the community the company operates in to come up with relevant CSR campaigns. The marketing team then should align the core activities of the company with the CSR activities allowing what will be implemented to be part of the company.  

When we want to do good in the community, we should belong to it with what we do best; our message as a company with what we represent with products and services should be aligned our good deeds. Think of it this way, I do good for doing good with things I do best “what distinguishes me as a brand” then your CSR will be the most effective serving the maximum gain to the communities you operate in.

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