CSR Roundup – Jan. 30, 2013

Each week, I’ll post a brief roundup of the latest and greatest in CSR news, with links to read the full story. 

  • From Target to Toyota, it looks like corporate philanthropy programs in the United States are here to stay.
  • McDonald’s announced this week that the company will only use sustainable Alaskan Pollack in its Filet-O-Fish sandwich and Fish McBites. Meanwhile, Burger King, IHOP and In-N-Out have also launched food-sourcing initiatives. Could restaurant chains be the leaders in CSR?
  • A new infographic from Edelman’s annual goodpurpose study shows that 76 percent of consumers would buy and recommend products from a company that supports a good cause.
  • Social media and government involvement are just two CSR trends to watch in 2013.

That’s all for now! Next week, I’ll delve deeper into Edelman’s goodpurpose study. Stay tuned.

Coca-Cola anti-obesity ad: CSR or defense move?

A new Coca-Cola ad targets the obesity epidemic in an unprecedented way.

Last week, the beverage company released an advertisement addressing its role in obesity. The ad, called “Coming Together,” met mixed reviews. “Coming Together” boasts the availability of low calorie and no calorie Coca-Cola products, as well as solutions such as all natural zero calorie sweetener. The ad also stresses that all calories count, “no matter where they come from, including Coca-Cola and everything else with calories,” says a voiceover in the video.

“And if you eat and drink more calories than you burn off, you’ll gain weight,” the voiceover goes on to say.

The ad represents a larger campaign within the company. The video directs viewers to a website displaying Coca-Cola’s low calorie drinks and initiatives to fight obesity. The company also showed an ad during American Idol called “Be Ok,” demonstrating different ways to burn 140 calories.

Is this a socially responsible move on Coca-Cola’s part? Some say no.

Many believe the ad is misleading in its message that all calories count, including Barry Popkin, a nutrition professor at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“The Coca-Cola Company still remains one of the major causes of obesity in the USA and globally,” said Popkin in a USA Today interview. “Yes, other foods matter, but the biggest single source contributor to child and adult obesity in the USA is sugar-sweetened beverages.”

A business’ CSR effort generally focuses on some area where they’ve faced criticism, and from this perspective, Coca-Cola is right to focus on obesity. This isn’t the company’s first CSR effort in the realm of public health – Coke has worked with the Boys & Girls Club on Triple Play, a youth health initiative, since 2005.

But the backlash from public health professionals may demonstrate that Coca-Cola wasn’t ready to enter the conversation. If your company’s CSR causes controversy, it might be better for the business not to address the issue so directly.

Despite the criticism, it seems consumers are standing behind the brand. Coca-Cola created a page for people to vote on whether the ads “hit the mark or miss the mark.” As of today, three quarters of voters say the ads hit the mark, with 400 total votes.

Welcome!

Hey! My name is Nora Chan, and I’m a senior public relations major at UNC-Chapel Hill. I started this blog to share my thoughts on goings-on in the world of CSR. I’m excited to challenge myself to delve into the topic of corporate responsibility. I’m no expert, but I hope this will be a learning process for me and any readers!

I became interested in corporate responsibility while interning at the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. I had planned on majoring in journalism since my freshman year, but wasn’t sure about my purpose in PR. As a Spanish speaking intern at the nonprofit, I realized the importance of reaching audiences when working for such an amazing cause. 

Brands and corporations are being held increasingly accountable for their impact. I feel this presents an exciting opportunity to connect corporations with organizations that help communities.

I’m excited to learn more, and I hope you’ll stay tuned and share your thoughts throughout the coming months. Thanks for stopping by!

Nora