Corporations wrapped in a cause


Corporations Wrapped in a Cause

Ad budgets shift millions into cause branding.
5 experts in my USC class. 15 takeaways. 

Bank of America is in the hunger business. 
Uber champions refugees. 
Jet Blue encourages kids to read. 
Johnson and Johnson creates the Diversity University. 

The winner of this year's Cannes' Lion Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix,  the most prestigious award in advertising, is a TV commercial from an Indian soap company about adding soap to chalk, improving the health of millions of kids. 

The Millennial Mindset

Corporations catering to the millennial mindset, now brand their companies through how they help build a better world, supporting the causes and diversity the generation cares about. They expose their deep corporate souls not only to their millennials customers, but to their millennial employees as well. They inspire corporate spirit by giving those employees volunteer opportunities and trainings that make them proud about the company they work for.

Moving With Change

Indeed, the Advertising and Communications business ain’t what it used to be, when corporations branded themselves by their products. That is why in this semester’s Advertising and Creativity class in the Masters program at USC Annenberg School of Communication I’m hosting six panels of change. Aside from immersing them in the creation of ideas and concepts, I realized my students now need to learn the skills how to move with the rhythm of change and relevancy.  Constantly. They need to know what keeps altering this profession, what the trends are, and where the new jobs are evolving. 

But it’s not only students and millennials. It’s all of us who want to learn and remain relevant. And following the Communication business is the best way for every business. 

It was a coup getting them to class: 5 Extraordinary and Respected Experts


Here are the top 15 points that emerged that evening: 

Corporate Social Responsibility:  

  • CSR must be more transparent than ever before; we have a generation that will grow up 100 percent in the social impact era

  • Businesses are increasingly seeing the link between CSR and brand and are managing it accordingly.

  • To create broad engagement, businesses need to respect and respond to the individual interests and purpose of their people rather than dictate from the corner office.   

  • Every social need is a business opportunity. 

  • Corporations are moving away from reactive giving, being more focused on impact. Rather than buy tables at galas, and present over-sized checks to charities, many companies are looking to make "big bets" on issues like homelessness, education, and climate change.

  • Consumer demand for products and companies that give back are forcing corporations to look at their marketing in different ways. They must now use advertising (in whatever form that may be) to tell their "give back" story.

  • In the past, CSR and Marketing were two different divisions. CSR was focused on community grants, charity gala sponsorship, and employee volunteerism. Now CSR is working in collaboration with Marketing in order to drive the message that this company cares. 

  • Brands will be stepping into causes more aggressively because government will either not have the dollars or care about specific issues important to different constituents. 

  • Integrated online campaigns with influencers and brands will be more interactive providing louder voices for both employee and customers.

  • Some industries like banks are being held more accountable to giving back into the communities they serve, hence, the Community Reinvestment Act is being modified and enforced more.

  • Some companies “get” that being branded at the grass roots level can have a lot more power than being included in a logo soup for an event.

  • More companies are giving less financial support and relying on their employees to make up the difference through volunteering and mentoring. 

Diversity and Inclusion: 

  • For CSR/Diversity & Inclusion to be meaningful and impactful we must not just commit to charitable work but to growth mindset in our companies as well. 

  • The work we put in now helps the generation of professionals that comes after us. We are truly setting our future communities up for a more inclusive workplace.

  • The companies that are doing this work have moved CSR and Diversity & Inclusion initiatives out of Human Resources and organically into other facets of their business so it becomes a main initiative in each department. This is not the responsibility of one person or one department, it is the responsibility of every member of the company.

Next Blog: 

The night the President of Deloitte Digital showed up with his two top people and then committed to come back two weeks later!

Gary Wexler