Someone posted a question yesterday on a forum asking if investing in social responsibility programs benefited brands. The answer is yes. And in some cases no. It’s never a bad idea to do good. But doing good to mask or overshadow the bad a company does is not right. I sit here typing in a tee shirt with the BP dandelion logo atop the line “We’re bringing oil to American shores.” BP is a joke. And long will be.
Dasani just announced a plastic bottle that is 30% plant based. That’s 30% responsible and 30% good as it relates to biodegradability, but what we don’t know is if the process chews up more energy or emits more carbon.
As a brand advocate, I would answer the social responsibility question this way: If the program is “brand meaningful” — if it makes a deposit in the brand bank — then it’s worth doing and celebrating. And supporting with paid media. If the program is not brand meaningful, say about child slavery, do it quietly and don’t feed the conversation. Just be proud to do Good’s work.
The Pepsi Refresh project does good. It impacts a lot of people who get access to funds. But Pepsi could do a lot more to clean up itself environmentally and health-wise. Pepsi can do more good with a bigger purpose, footprint and impact than offering cheerleaders new uniforms or putting new bleachers on a little league field. Is Pepsi Refresh masking? I prefer the Coca-Cola approach to social responsibility. They can do much more, but they don’t wear a mask. And they don’t try to build a sugar water movement around it. Peace!