Marketers face this dilemma every day. They must push some boundaries past the point of pain in order to get the jump and be competitive. At the same time, they must clearly stay within constraints such as ethics and regulatory requirements in order to retain integrity, reputation and a clean record.
Some years back, Deborah Doane wrote a hard-hitting article about the “myth of CSR”. In it, she argued that CSR was a reaction rather than an action; that it was essentially a collective response to uprisings against the behaviours and morals of corporate institutions and that it had been encouraged by an historically weak NGO sector as a way to bring about change. Her concerns mirror many that I have independently raised.
Almost every brand I work with has a community policy, an environmental policy, a sustainability policy … as they should. And everyone seems to acknowledge that the policy or policies they have form an important part of their reputation and their stakeholder relations … as they should. And yet precious few brands have actively connected those social responsibility activities with their brand.