Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign

I have found dozens of companies that practice good CSR, but I have fallen in love with Dove.

I want to disclose that Dove isn’t paying me for this post nor am I a medical professional. The views I express are entirely my own. Please do what is best for yourself and use whatever health care products that you wish.

Now then, here are the 4 reasons why Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign is great CSR

1. Corporate social responsibility is anchored in having a philosophy that benefits the public and the company. The Dove Real Beauty campaign was created in 2004, and their first objective was to widen the cultural definition of beauty. Age, weight, height and skin color were targeted by different campaigns.

2. Dove thought creativity about how to reach audiences. The most well known campaign is the “Real Beauty Sketches” which aired on television in the early part of 2013.

This video tugged at the heartstrings of American women. For a while, the advertisement was the most viewed commercial on YouTube. As a student of journalism, Doves’ creative tactics got my attention. I am impressed with how Dove continues to integrate marketing and social media to create natural spokes models.

3. The power of a review from a friend. There are dozens of brands and hundreds of products to choose from at the store – having a friend recommend one thing over the other is what PR is all about. (Advertizing is telling people your product is the best, PR is having people tell others that your product is the best).

Below is a screen shot of Dove’s Instagram page highlighting how beauty is in every woman. Using Instagram to encourage women to promote their natural beauty and dove products is a great PR tactic.

4. Dove’s compliment campaign “Girl’s Self Esteem”. After so much social media coverage people wanted to know what else Dove was doing to empower women, especially young girls, who are very impressionable. Dove commissioned a global report “The Real Truth About Beauty” in 2004. A highlighting factor is only 4 percent of girls describe themselves as beautiful. Dove is trying to widen the definition of beautiful, not by encouraging girls to buy their products to become beautiful, but to buy their products to keep clean and celebrate their own beauty.

This post is Gluten-Free

A week after I learned I was allergic to dairy, almonds and coconut, a friend invited me to her birthday party. Being a little kid, I felt uncomfortable asking what kind of cake she was going to serve, but I knew I had to ask. She told me “a white cake with almond chunks and coconut shaved frosting”. I wish I was making this story up for dramatic effect, but it really happen. I tried to politely explain that I won’t be able to eat the cake but I would still like to come. Unfortunately we were so young that having a “new” food allergy was in an attack on her mother’s cooking. I was swiftly uninvited to the birthday party.

Several years later that same friend discovered she was unable to digest gluten. She was scared and refused to eat anything, so I purchased vegan gluten-free nut-free cookies, and we talked about the new chapter in her life. The moral of this short story is a chocolate chip cookie can always make you feel better.

Lucys-Gluten-Free-Cookies-Chocolate-Chip-897519001006

It can be frustrating to keep up with the newest healthy food craze. If you are only preparing meals for yourself it might be easier to peruse the nutrition label and ingredients list while in the grocery store. But if you are caught in the store with little kids, you may not be able to concentrate on the fine print.

A recent New York Times article discussed the trend of gluten-free foods. It reported “a Mayo Clinic survey in 2012 concluded that only 1.8 million Americans have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack the small intestine when gluten is ingested and can lead to other debilitating medical problems if not diagnosed. An additional 18 million people, or about 6 percent of the population, is believed to have gluten sensitivity, a less severe problem with the protein in wheat, barley and rye and their relatives that gives elasticity to dough and stability to the shape of baked goods.”

The Stanford School of Medicine believes if one family member is allergic to something, then there is a 60 percent chance that another family member will have the same allergy.  Simply put, two out of three children in a home will be allergic to the same food. This means it is easier for some households to discontinue purchasing the irritant food in favor of a food that everyone can eat. Cleansing the pantry and fridge of all foods related to an allergy is the best way to keep kids safe while encouraging independence in food choices.

So when does too many gluten-free options become a problem?

The entry into the market is easy for small facilities that sell locally, because a small to mid-sized bakery can concentrate all of the resources on producing gluten-free products. Larger companies and national chains may struggle to break into the gluten-free market because of cross contamination and problems surrounding freshness. Personally, I don’t think there can be too many products that cater to dietary restrictions. Variety is important.

Image from ripenfit.com

Poor corporate social responsibility comes when products are advertizing gluten-free under the pretense that the recipe has been altered to make the product gluten-free. Many foods and processed products are gluten-free by nature. Adding a label to the cover of a box doesn’t alter the content of the product inside, but it does give consumers the illusion of purchasing the best product.

On the other hand, labeling products as gluten-free is good corporate social responsibility because the company is informing consumers about the product and allowing more people to try their product. In fact many popular companies like Hershey and General Mills have lists of foods that are compatible with dietary restrictions.

The corporate social responsibility component of gluten-free products is rooted in the motive behind producing, labeling and selling gluten-free items.

Do you prefer gluten-free foods? Let me know why in the comments below.

CSRwire hosts Twitter chat

The CSRwire hosted a Twitter chat on Feb. 12, 2014 to talk with corporate social responsibility opinion leaders. For my blog post I am going to list the questions I liked the best and then talk about the responses.

The first questions posed was

Capture CSRwire Q1

The top responses included; transparency, nontraditional partnerships and recognizing consumers as a primary stakeholder.

I agree with this list. Transparency is something that businesses are going to strive for on a day-to-day basis. The yearly CSR reports containing miles of text have a very short half-life if compared to monthly or quarterly reports of CSR work. Transparency involves timeliness.
Then there is the rise of self-aware consumers. Arguably, they have always been present, but what is changing is how businesses treat them. The power of social media allows boycotts to start before a public relations specialist has time to punch out a news release to calm the fire. Being present and available for communication is important for survival, because substitute products are always available in the market and consumers have no problem paying a little extra for the production of products they want.

Capture CSRwire Q2Top answers: Tangible value, qualitative data and completeness in data.

Numbers and short feature stories aren’t enough – they were never enough. So what if your company reduced water waste by 30 percent? In the process you outsourced and then optimized resulting in the layoff of 1,000 employees. Is that really CSR?
Each action a corporation makes in the name of CSR is going to have negative impact somewhere else. Consumers are seeing this and it makes them disappointed. This is why completeness in the data is crucial. It is important to find all consequences a choice has and minimize damage before it even happens.

(Skipping a few questions)

Capture  CSRwire Q7GRI is Global Reporting Initiative and it comes from the fact that many companies operate internationally.

Top answers are story telling and competitive firms.

GRI can be difficult. For example lets say there is a company that makes shirts. They get cotton from the United States, thread from Thailand and machines from China, but the assembly takes place in Mexico. Is it the shirt companies responsibility to make sure that employees are being paid well in Thailand? How can they? The shirt company is only buying thread, they aren’t responsible for wages. Global Reporting allows some transparency in the inputs of production. So while the shirt company may be practicing great CSR, the components of their product may have bad CSR. Accurately measuring a product would involve tracking it back through the manufacturing process. I hope to see more GRI as 2014 progresses.

Unilerver

As a college student living in Eugene Ore., I am bombarded with messages reminding me that every health and beauty product I own is giving me cancer and is polluting the environment. As a result I have unwillingly starting reading the ingredient information on anything I pick up at the market. I don’t know what I am looking for when I read the back label, but I figure I should get points for trying. I flunked out of high school chemistry and I haven’t been back to make amends. So as long as the product doesn’t say “may cause death or cancer” I figure I am in the clear.

In my quest to read labels I found that almost everything I own has a ‘U’ symbol on it. I decided to look up and found the Unilever brand just as they were kicking off their “project sunlight”.

Project Sunlight is a sustainable living plan that adds onto what people are doing on an individual level. It covers a multitude of CSR programs like sustainable living, hunger, clean water and education- but it is operating on a global level.

The saying “children are the future” has been around for decades. Unilever took this old idea and made it new by adding faces of children and families around the globe to drive home the fact that we all live on the same planet. Their research found “Some 9 out of 10 parents say children’s natural optimism inspires them to make the world a better place while 7 out of 10 say they want to live in a greener way for their children’s future”. This means the fundamental force behind this campaign is to make today brighter for our children tomorrow. Unilever is partnering with existing organizations; Save the Children, UNICEF and the World Food Programme to help bring “sunlight” to children around the world.

Let me take a the rest of this post to talk about how Unilever is promoting Project Sunlight through traditional (and new) public relations channels.

Unilever poject sunlightFacebook
In every PR class we always talk about developing original, sharable content. Unilever has knocked this ball out of the park. First the high-quality photos using sunlight as the overarching subject matter are breathtaking. Evey image has “project Sunlight” and the Unilever company logo, so when people share the photo or download it the source doesn’t get lost. Also the photos are the right size for the Facebook timeline feature, meaning photos in posts aren’t larger than 403 x 403 pixels square. Larger photos will be moved the the center of the page and allow empty space on either side. The Unilever posts are utilize one hastag,  #BrightFuture, and a link to a page or article about what they are doing with project Sunlight.

Twitter
Unilever utilizes hastag’s, shortened links, images and retweets to keep connected with thier followers. Whenever a big event is happening they have someone Tweeting live. Unilever uses Twitter to tweet out relevant news articles that don’t directly involve them, but are about sustainable living.

YouTube
Few businesses take the time to pay for a YouTube account. I encourage readers to take a look at how a well this page has been assembled.

Overall project Sunlight is a brilliant demonstration of corporate social responsibility and the public relations tactics they are using to disseminated their campaign is something I look forward to watching over the next year.

SeaWorld (Finally) Responds to ‘Blackfish’

I grew up near Newport Oregon, where I visited a male orca named Keiko several times a year. Keiko was best known for his movie role Free Willy in 1993 (Which I have never seen and don’t want to see). I remember playing with the giant orca, by running the length of the underwater viewing glass and having him chase me back and forth.

I remember Keiko had a bent dorsal fin. The tour guides insisted that he lived the first half of his life in a dangerously small pool, and was only able to swim in one direction. I believed them. I also believed that Keiko was receiving great care.

After watching Blackfish, I shudder to think what goes on behind the curtain at any orca housing facility. Blackfish followed the story of another famous male orca named Tilikum. I encourage you to watch the drama-documentary with a box of facial tissue nearby. In summary Tilikum can be linked to three killings, each of which surrounds accusations of cover-up.

Dawn with Tilikum

In 2010 Tilikum killed one of his experienced trainers, Dawn Brancheau, by pulling her underwater after a show. Initial eye-witness reports said that Brancheau was pulled in by her hair.
Later other reports surfaced that she was pulled in by her arm.

While the drama-documentary is mostly following the story of Tilikum, Blackfish puts a bright spotlight on SeaWord’s practices. SeaWorld is where Brancheau was killed and where Tilikum resides today.

Blackfish was released in January 2013. It has taken SeaWorld 12 months to publicly respond to the drama-documentary. You can read SeaWorld’s “The Truth about Blackfish” here.

I agree with many points SeaWorld makes about the continuity of Blackfish. Footage from recent performances was used to supplement the narration of former SeaWorld employees. As far as exhibiting corporate social responsibility, SeaWorld has a long way to go.

SeaWorld’s function is tri-fold

1. Education and Research

2. Conservation

3. Entertainment

These three functions fall under the larger umbrellas of corporate social responsibility; society, environment and economy.

But there are ethical (and moral) dilemmas surrounding each function. Starting with society’s education and research. Animal advocates don’t want to see orca’s being encouraged to adapt to human contact and conditioning. Also using animals for work or experimentation isn’t okay for many animal advocates. Both of these are taking place at SeaWorld, on a daily basis. Therefore, SeaWorld fails the first part of corporate social responsibility.

Second, the environmental conservation of orca’s. The current facilities the animals at SeaWorld live in are not mimicking of their natural habitat. This means that their pools are made from concrete and aren’t deep enough to simulate the ocean. Breeding animals for show purposes but labeling it as “conservation” is also a huge concern among animal advocates.

Third, using the orca’s as entertainment to make a profit. This is the essence of SeaWorld. Entertainment. Using large animals to perform tricks to rake in the dollars. The trainers are “performers” and the pool is the “stage”. The performers are paid and get to go home to their families while the orca’s are compensated with dead frozen fish soup and are penned up for the night.

From Seaworldofhurt.com

From Seaworldofhurt.com

SeaWorld offers daily performances because it bottom line is about dollars, not the care of the animals. If they did care about their animals, they would release the older whales into a open-sea pen and rely on donations to fund their research.

Since Blackfish premiered last year (January 2013), an angry public has taken to Twitter, Facebook and other social media to put pressure on Sea World sponsors to discontinue their partnership. Major corporations like Southwest Airlines continue to partner with SeaWorld. However several musical artists, including the Barenaked Ladies and Willie Nelson have cancelled their scheduled performances and encourage people to not attend SeaWorld.

SeaWorld is stepping up their public relations attempts by releasing videos of people featured in Blackfish, who talk about how they were made to look bad in the drama-documentary. About every five days @SeaWorld will Tweet out something about “don’t listen to activist hype” or “learn the truth”. Despite the negative attention, SeaWorld reported that it made record profits in 2013.

Center for Disease Control Tackles Zombies

zombies_bigAre you prepared for the impending zombie apocalypse? If you don’t participate in zombie costume play, then chances are you aren’t equipped for the “Day of Judgment” from the undead. So grab your tinfoil hat and listen up.  (Or is tinfoil for alien invasions?)

Good news! The United States Center for Disease Control has created the guide “Preparedness 101” which contains everything you need in case of a zombie apocalypse.

Wait… What? Why is the Center for Disease Control worried about zombies?

It turns out people are more likely to pay attention to zombie preparedness plans than plain-old emergency preparedness. Bestselling books have already been written on the subject like The Zombie Survival Guide and Zompoc: How to Survive and Zombie Apocalypse. These books are filled with humorous commentary laced with important public health and welfare information.

The Center for Disease Control began its “Preparedness 101” in 2011 to educate the public about natural disasters. The response by the public was very positive. Within three days the Twitter @CDCemergancy had over 1.2 million followers and today it has 1.5 million followers.

The boost in Twitter followers allowed the CDC to effectively disseminate information of new threats or impending natural disasters to people’s mobile devices.

So what defines this campaign as corporate social responsibility?

Namely, the “Preparedness 101”, goes above and beyond the call to protect American people.  Despite the fact that the Center for Disease Control is a government agency and their mission is to serve and protect the American public, (thus being obligated to partake in corporate social responsibility), we can still label their efforts and success as socially responsible.

Let’s take a closer look at what the CDC did. The Center for Disease Control saw a problem: American’s were not prepared for natural disasters or emergencies. CDC solved this by creating and engaging campaign that educated viewers about the steps to take before and after a crisis occurs. The campaign was successful because it promoted the health and welfare of all Americans without discrimination. It is further used under the CDC blog Public Health Matters where stories are collected about how the “Preparedness 101” has changed the way Americans view emergency safety.

CDC Zombie Nation: Teaching Preparedness though a Zombie Outbreak

Even though there isn’t going to be a zombie outbreak anytime soon, the information and plan of action for the zombies can be transferred to other emergencies that Americans may face. In this way the campaign made people aware of potential dangers and educated them about steps to take, possibly saving lives in years to come. Which is a benchmark for any corporate social responsibility campaign. The CDC is using its new following on social media to continue to educating the public for the good. This campaign also helped teach people about the resources the CDC provides and what they do for the country.

This campaign is a model for other government agencies to connect with the media savvy generation. The CDC was able to engage, inform and persuade people to make a plan and be prepared.

In the interest of full disclosure, there was some public backlash centering around how the CDC did not recommend any weapons or artillery to defend oneslef, so you may view the YouTube video below.