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Corporate social responsibility finds a place in brand building

05-January-2005
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Corporate social responsibility finds a place in brand building

It was a horrific end to a great year. And as the countdown for the New Year began, many prayed to Mother Nature for peace. A good time to take a look at the softer side to Corporate India’s softer side and marketing initiatives that don’t really aim to sell brands and products. Many companies launched innovative efforts in the realm of corporate social responsibility.

LG, for instance, is spreading its brand message ‘Life’s Good’ by improving the living conditions of the downtrodden. The company recently opened a dispensary facility at Noida and Greater Noida. All basic facilities and well-qualified doctors in the dispensary are employed by LG. The dispensary provide an X-ray facility and free medication for patients. LGEIL, with its corporate office in Greater Noida, has adopted 24 villages around the area. Dr Y.V. Verma, HR & MS, LGEIL, says, “LG’s contribution towards creating a better society reflects the group’s abiding interest in community welfare activities.”

Samsung India wasn’t far behind. The company ran a programme called DigitAll Hope. “The programme supports organizations that promote the use of technology to improve the lives of youth,” said the official spokesperson of Samsung India. The company’s attempt is to empower the youth and bridge the digital divide, he added.

Soft drinks major Pepsi too has taken a social step that would leverage the brand further but differently. Pepsi has partnered with farmers in Punjab to produce various commercial crops such as chillies, potatoes, basmati rice and groundnut. PepsiCo’s successful contract farming model is now being extended to other crops and states too. Pepsi Foods, rightfully, will be depending on these farmers for the potatoes that go into making their variety of wafers.

What’s really interesting is how McDonald’s has tapped its target audience – children -- to help other children. Recently, McDonald’s arranged a painting competition wherein children from all over North and West India participated. The funds generated from it went to Dr Shroff’s Eeyecare. “Through this initiative, we hope to make a difference to the lives of at least a fraction of the visually disadvantaged children,” says Vikram Bakshi, Joint Venture Partner and MD, McDonald’s India.

Airtel has innovatively pushed the brand message “Express Yourself” by helping out those who can’t really do so. The company came out with a ‘Confidence Plan’ for the hearing impaired. The plan entails a slew of never before benefits such as 2,000 free Airtel to Airtel SMS within the local network and the facility to send SMS to other local, national and international networks. In fact, the company has encouraged the adoption of the confidence plan amongst the hearing impaired by keeping the monthly rental at a low price.

It’s not just consumer brand marketers but media houses too are using social initiatives to leverage their brands by servicing people. Dainik Jagran, for instance, found that to penetrate Jharkhand, the best way was to reach out to the people on a one-to-one basis and develop a relationship with them. “The idea behind the campaign was to win the trust of the people by involving ourselves in developmental activities in the region. The response has been overwhelming,” said Sanjay Gupta, CE and Editor, Dainik Jagran.

The year did certainly end on a traumatic note. However, it gave corporates the chance to show that they had hearts too. At the end of the day, the consumer knew that India Inc. is not lacking in generosity. Their vision does not necessarily end with sales, marketing, brands and bottomlines. We would have loved to provide a list of those who chipped in so generously for the tsunami victims, but the list is far too long and still growing.

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