Laura Petrolino

Six Reasons Corporate Social Responsibility Campaigns Fail

By: Laura Petrolino | May 1, 2017 | 

Six Reasons Corporate Social Responsibilit CampaignsLast week in my post about cognitive bias, I promised I’d dive into the halo effect this week.

Which I had every intention of doing until…..oh look a squirrel!

A couple of really great examples of corporate social responsibility campaigns landed in front of me and I had to abandon my plans.

It essentially divine intervention.

Plus how often do you have a valid reason to write about a dance-off and a bachelor rhino in one blog post?


This is like the time I got to talk about ice cream in the guise of business ethics.

So sit back and be inspired by these innovative corporate social responsibility campaigns.

Guardians of The Galaxy Dance-Off

How can you not love the recently launched corporate social responsibility campaign from Marvel to generate excitement around Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2?

(Although how can you NOT be excited about that…but I digress.)

The #GrootDanceBomb challenge combines user-generated content, influencer relations, corporate social responsibility initiatives, and the power of shared media.

Marvel enlisted YouTube star D-Trix (old person alert: I had no idea who this was until this campaign), to launch a dance challenge around everyone’s favorite Guardians character (baby Groot).

For everyone that joins the challenge, Marvel will plant one tree (up to 250,000 trees).

They also encourage sharing and social interaction for those less dance inclined with donations for likes and shares.

And always one to think through every opportunity to make a sale—not only does the challenge generate excitement over the new movie, but Disney also uses it as a way to promote their Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 toys and new soundtrack.

This Rhino is Looking For Some Good Lovin’

What does a rhino need to do these days to get some action?

Sudan is a super sexy SWMR (single white male rhino) is in need of a mate.

And not just because he has a wedding to go to and doesn’t want to have to explain to his family why he can’t just settle down and find a nice girl.

Sadly, he and two females are the last of their kind.

In an effort to raise funds for in vitro fertility treatments, the great folks at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy partnered with Tinder.

Last Tuesday, Sudan went live on the app, which is used in 190 countries.

When users swipe right on his profile they are redirected to head Ol Pejeta’s donation page.

Reuters reports the page received so many hits it crashed within hours of Sudan’s profile going live.

Winning with True Corporate Social Responsibility

Both brands and causes win when they team together through effective social responsibility campaigns.

It is a super smart tactic in a world where an organization’s commitment to social responsibility affects purchase decision.

While the overall cost is low for often low for the brand (a few trees for Marvel, some development work for Tinder), the ROI is high in-terms of brand trust that drives sales.

Unfortunately often brands want the value of corporate social responsibility campaigns, but fail in one of several areas:

  • They don’t choose causes or campaigns which naturally align with their operations, services, or message.
  • They have conflicts of interest in what they promote vs. what they do (a good example of this is banks who tout “green initiatives” while still investing in projects that contribute to global environmental decline.
  • Organizations place corporate social responsibility campaigns in silos or treat them as “after thoughts” vs. integrated into the company values and vision.
  • Marketing and promotion of corporate social responsibility campaign is the biggest component of it.
  • Measurement on actual value is absent.
  • There is no effort at employee buy-in.

It takes work to turn corporate social responsibility from a buzz word to an actual effective movement.

We must treat corporate social responsibility campaigns like any other campaign.

They must have sound strategy, measurable goals, brand alignment, and—most of all—integrity. 

About Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.