Being seen doing good.

5 Jun

When you tell people you work in advertising, you can expect them to react in one of two ways.

“That must be such a great job. My friend Dave works in advertising. Do you know Dave? I don’t know his last name. What ads did you do? Do you make TV ads or magazine ads? Do you work at Saatchis? Do you watch that show Mad Men? Is advertising like that show Mad Men?”


Followed by a sharp intake of breath through the teeth.

It can be hard to imagine advertising that leaves the world a better place. But when you consider that every organisation these days has at least some semblance of a Corporate Social Responsibility programme, it seems only logical that the marketing department should occasionally tap into it for juicy storytelling opportunities.

I’d go so far as to argue that unless a CSR initiative is saving your business money, ensuring compliance, or keeping you out of the doghouse of public opinion, you’re wasting energy on any activity that doesn’t make for a very, very good story. That includes charitable donations, by the way.

So what makes for a very, very good story?

Check out this one from Dulux. The Let’s Colour Project is an ambitious global goal to transform the dull, grey ghettos of the Third World into bright, uplifting neighbourhoods. It brings the community together and physically improves the spaces people inhabit. If you were to dig deep enough, you might even find statistics that show a splash of colour makes a neighbourhood safer.

It’s also an extremely tangible benefit, because it’s simple to convey through pictures, and makes a fabulous story to tell. This is not passive charity – it’s active involvement.

I’m sure all those buckets of paint were equally as tax deductible as some limp lump sum donation to the Red Cross. But this way, Dulux gets to leverage its CSR activity as marketing. Unless you have a particular case for acting as an anti-brand, being seen doing good is never off-brand.

So here’s advice for the week: take a look at the CSR strategies that your company, or your clients’ companies have in place. See if you can leverage them as a marketing idea. If not, you might just be missing an important opportunity to be seen doing good.


One Response to “Being seen doing good.”


  1. More than talking. Working. « The Shortest Word. - July 6, 2010

    […] a restoration project: the small town of Braddock, Pennsylvania. Then read last month’s post, Be Seen Doing Good, and allow me to officially declare this to be a Trend In […]

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