Gone is what Milton Friedman said in 1970: “the only social responsibility of business is to increase its profits”. Over the years it has been demonstrated to think about the common good and make money is perfectly compatible. The Corporate Social Responsibility programs are very useful for enhancing the value of the brand, one of the biggest intangible assets that have businesses in these times. This well know companies that are suffering under the rigors of the crisis thanks to strong penetration values – positive – their mark on the collective subconscious.
While the saturation of markets led consumers make their purchasing decisions based on things that had little to do with the price. The insistent communication of values, symbols and aspirational versus product images at all points of contact such as advertising, showcase, dependent or culture of innovation, are the realization of the value of branding that clearly transcends the object of consumption itself. And within this new paradigm of corporate social responsibility (CSR) it is at the epicenter … or at least is one of the epicenters.
The problem today is that consumers no longer trust. CSR has gone from being something worthy to be seen as a hoax over the marketing and communication departments, media interested without any intention of true social responsibility. What “giving back to the society what it gives us” it is in question. The consumer seems suspicious suspect that CSR is no more than marketing makeup to consume more.
This perception is not entirely fair. Just look at the example of McDonald’s created and 265 households worldwide that serve as shelters and support for sick children who should receive medical treatment away from the towns where they live. There is no doubt that this program is not a simple heading into the colossus plan marketing chain. But if it is true that, generally, there seems to be a strategic error in communication. Companies often take heart from their CSR programs and that is precisely what makes them suspects. The appointment of Thomas Carlyle “who can not keep his thoughts to himself, will be unable to do great things” comes to sum up the feeling. The big names that have done great things for the common good, such as Gandhi or Mother Teresa of Calcutta, were humble people, more given to do things they tell what they have done. And this is, I think, the key to communication of CSR programs. The more you talk about them, they are less credible.
It may seem a nonsense invest money not to get a ROI, but friend, is that CSR is essentially the same thing. Or that’s at least how I understand the Company. The return comes indirectly, is a return on the brand, not sales. If it were not, it would be like buying forgiveness through good works. For a program to be credible CSR, less talk and more do. We must look inward, align the way we act with the ideal that we have set. A CSR program should not be something to brag, but a code display, which smacks, sitting in everything we do. As Lao-Tse said: “The wise man does not teach with words but with deeds.”