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Do It Day Social Good

'You still have to fix the underlying issues' – why big brands can’t just rely on an ad campaign to show they’re doing good

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By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

April 21, 2016 | 4 min read

If a brand wants to do good, such as having a positive impact on the environment, then they need o ensure they’re trying to fix these issues from the inside out and not rely on a catchy advertising campaign, according to a panel of top marketers at Advertising Week Europe.

A prime example comes from the ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetable campaigns that a number of supermarkets have been running of late to try and get people to buy the “special” range of food that due to self-set standards had been deemed unsuitable for general sale.

Creative, yes, but is it acceptable if the companies behind the ads are not pushing that agenda at the highest level so that they rethink how they source and distribute products?

“You can see the waste agenda coming down the tracks for the supermarkets and the misshapen vegetables campaign is fantastic,” said Nick Giles co-founder of PR firm Seven Hills. “But what are they going to do to fix that problem rather than just [rely on] a super piece of creative that we’ll notice and share but that doesn’t get to the heart of the issue.”

Giles’ comments came during a panel session hosted by The Drum to launch the Do It Day documentary – our own attempt to stop brands simply talking about doing good and get them actually doing things that will improve the world around us.

His fellow panellists were in agreement with the notion that CSR can no longer be an idea cooked up in a department to mask other areas where a brand isn’t being responsible.

Ben Mooge, executive creative director at Havas London, said that advertising, while “a useful megaphone”, should not detract from the need for brands to build doing good and solving real-world issues into the day-to-day running of the business.

“You’re only every one click away from the truth,” he warned.

The importance of baking social responsibility into the heart of a company is something emerging brands have been quick to pick up on.

Heide Cohu, founder at Studio of Art & Commerce and the global brand director at Bacardi, added that throughout her career – which included a seven-year stint at Red Bull – she’s seen some bigger corporate brands try and poorly replicate this.

“They businesses think ‘oh I’ll do a little bit of social responsible marketing’ and then come up with something that’s at odds with what they do and is unrelated to their brand positioning. People see through that. If you have a big corporate thing saying “we’ll do good” and still behaving in a different way, people will see that,” she said.

Predicting a challenge on the horizon for data-rich brands, Bill Sullivan, European marketer leader at IBM iX, said marketers will need to think about how to ensure their stance on privacy and security is clear across the company as well as how it’s communicated to consumers.

“So Apple and the government [Apple has been asked to provide the FBI with the means to access a phone] and this whole thing around big data and the access is going to be a critical area for companies to engage with,” said Sullivan.

Do It Day Social Good

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