The CSR Newsletters are a freely-available resource generated as a dynamic complement to the textbook, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Strategic CSR - Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is taking place this weekend here in the US. In addition to the game itself, this event is known for the advertising that takes place during commercial breaks. Given the large potential captive audience, firms are willing to pay heavily for the chance to present to them and tradition dictates that they go all out. Often in previous years, the ads have been more eventful and entertaining than the game.
More recently, however, companies have begun to stray from product announcements and juvenile humor to tackle more difficult topics that the country is wrestling with at the time. One famous/infamous attempt (depending on your perspective) was Coca-Cola's ad for the 2014 Super Bowl, in which a very visibly diverse group of people (all of whom were US citizens) sang "America the Beautiful" in different languages (it still gives me goose bumps). See the 90 second version of the ad here, and some of the backlash/controversy it generated here.
Anyway, 2014 seems like a different age when we could be shocked by such 'controversial' acts. According to the article in the url below, we are now much more jaded and just want companies to stay away from such 'political' statements:
"More brands are capturing headlines by tangling with political and social issues in their advertising campaigns. A new poll suggests, however, that most Americans would rather they don't try the same thing during the Super Bowl. And viewers are likely to get what they want. Two-thirds of consumers call the Super Bowl an inappropriate place for advertisers to make political statements."
The graph in the article reports that, when asked if the Super Bowl is the "right platform for advertisers to make political statements," 2,200 respondents replied:
  • Very appropriate 7%
  • Somewhat appropriate 13%
  • Not too appropriate 17%
  • Not at all appropriate 49%
  • Don't know 14%

As might be expected, there are differences among generations, but even the youngest respondents were not keen on Super Bowl ads:
"Baby boomers in the poll disapproved of political Super Bowl advertisements more, at 77%, than younger cohorts such as millennials (55%) and Generation Z, defined as those 18-21 years old (43%). … Only 35% of Gen Z respondents to the poll called political Super Bowl ads "very" or "somewhat" appropriate."
This is a little strange, given that the mix of sport and politics was seeming to gain traction with Nike's support for Colin Kaepernick (see Strategic CSR – Patriotism and Strategic CSR - ESPN). The trouble is, I don't see how firms can avoid being 'political.' If they were to say we value our customers or our employees, I am guessing people would be OK with that, but it is no less of a political statement. I am sure there are issues that people would rather not be troubled with as they work their way through an unhealthy amount of chicken wings, but that is different from wanting firms to remove values from their advertising. Everything any firm does is grounded in ethics and values and morals—it is just that some firms judge the mood of the country better than other firms and get their ads 'right,' while others misjudge the mood and get their ads 'wrong.' What I like so much about the Coca-Cola ad is that the company knew it was putting something controversial out and it did it anyway. It felt the values were more important and they wanted to stand by them. It is why I love the ad so much. I wish more companies were as brave.
Enjoy the football for those of you in the US.
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Consumers Say Brands Shouldn't Bring Politics to the Super Bowl
By Nat Ives
January 16, 2019
The Wall Street Journal
Late Edition – Final

Monday, January 28, 2019

Strategic CSR - The Amazon

I had to read the opening sentence of the article in the url below twice to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me:
"The Trump administration is considering an international challenge to Peru's deforestation of the Amazon, the first time the United States has prepared to act against a trading partner for violating environmental standards in a trade agreement, according to people with knowledge of the proposed action."
Then, I wondered why The New York Times had buried the story on p4 of the business supplement. Not only is this a pro-environment move by the current administration, but it is the first time the US has ever enforced a trade agreement to achieve that goal. The article explains it as an attempt to mollify Democrats about enforcement provisions in the new Canada/Mexico/US trade agreement to replace NAFTA:
"In a signal to Democrats that he is willing to act aggressively on issues they consider important, the United States trade representative … is considering challenging Peru's decision to dismantle an agency created to stop the illegal harvesting of trees in the Amazon rain forest under the 2007 United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement."
Either way, however, it seems a big step to take if mollifying the Democrats was the only goal. Maybe the president doesn't know about it, which is why The NYT was burying it. If he was alerted to it, he might change course quickly. As the article notes:
"The potential action … comes as President Trump systematically scales back protections of wilderness areas in the United States."
Take care
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In Overture to Democrats, Administration May Challenge Peru on Deforestation
By Glenn Thrush
December 20, 2018
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Strategic CSR - Welcome back!

Welcome back to the Strategic CSR Newsletter!
The first newsletter of the Spring semester is below.
As always, your comments and ideas are welcome.
The article in the url below from the end of 2018 puts into perspective the astronomic wealth and earning power of Jeff Bezos:
"On his worst day of the year, Jeff Bezos made more in a minute than the average American household makes in a year and five months. He also made more than his lowest paid employees — full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal — make in two years and eleven months. At the start of 2018, the Amazon CEO's net worth crossed the 12-digit mark and as the year comes to a close, he's ending up with roughly $132 billion."
So, how does Bezos rank against other billionaires?
"Bezos is now one-and-a-half-times richer than the second-richest person on earth, Bill Gates, who he surpassed to claim the number one spot for the first time only a year and a half ago."
What is interesting is how modest (relatively speaking) his base pay is:
"Bezos' base salary is a modest $81,840, and his total compensation (which includes things like security and benefits) is $1,681,840. But his insane wealth is due to the 16% stake in Amazon he owns, which alone is worth about $125 billion today."
Even after Amazon's announcement that it will raise its minimum pay to $15 an hour, Bezos' relative earnings are impressive:
"If those employees work a 40-hour-week for 52 weeks, that salary comes out to about $30,000 a year — a little over last year's median. On September 4, when his net worth peaked at $168 billion and he had made $84 billion in the year prior, it took him a minute to make $160,000 — it would take his minimum wage employees almost five and a half years to earn the same. And on January 2, when his net worth was at its 2018 lowest, he made $67,790 in a minute; a sum that would take his lowest-paid employees more than two years to make."
Even on a bad day for Bezos, our society values his work day to be worth many multiples of his fellow Americans:
"Even on his worst day, when the market closed on October 26 and he had lost $11 billion (7.5% of his net worth), Bezos could go to sleep knowing that, on average, he made $87,500 in a minute. The median household income in the U.S. is $60,336 a year according to the U.S. Census Bureau, meaning it takes the typical U.S. household almost 1.5 years to make what Bezos made in one minute. By the end of that year leading up to his worst monetary loss of 2018, Bezos had made a total of $46 billion, which could pay the annual median income for 762,397 U.S. households."
Take care
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Jeff Bezos Got So Rich in 2018 That He Now Makes More Money Per Minute Than You Do in a Year
By Prachi Bhardwaj
December 15, 2018