Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#128 - 26 May 2008

An email newsletter with news and discussion focusing on corporate social responsibility globally, looking at the companies in the news and the emerging issues. Linked to the website at and produced every two weeks.

This web page provides news stories and articles from the newsletters. Newsletters also include links to features on the internet, Mallen's blog, and other resources.

In this issue, we look at the phenomenon of 'stealth marketing'.


For marketers, nothing is a bigger turn-off than the dreary compliance language of corporate social responsibility. It is the marketers job after all to know about customers and opportunities to sell to them, not about citizens and things they might disapprove of.

I am a great fan of finding a common ground to talk about social responsibility in terms of opportunities - things to do rather than things not to do. But sometimes you have to note that there is a line, and marketers that have no idea of what being a citizen means keep wandering over it.

This issue's main article is an excellent case in point - focusing on something that has been described as 'stealth marketing'. Groucho Marx once famously said that the most important thing in life is sincerity - if you can fake that, you've got it made. In the web 2.0 world, it has become about customers talking to each other - authentic brands being talked about because they are remarkable. So it was only a matter of time before marketers tried to fake authenticity. Needless to say, such attempts are extremely high risk, and have a good track record now of going disastrously wrong.

So the dreary compliance stuff does have its uses after all!

Also, this issue includes a book review - the first for some time. I am intending to include more of these in the future, and will hopefully build these over time into an additional part of the 'resources' section on the website.

I mentioned last time that Business Respect sponsor the Social Marketing Network had changed its name. Now, following a conversation with the network's founder, John Drummond, they have decided to offer two weeks free access to the website resources at the Social Marketing Network website to Business Respect subscribers. If you are a subscriber (rather than reading this on the website) then you can click on the personalised link in the sponsors ad below to send an automatic request to be granted access - they will then come back to you with login details (note - at the Network end this is human-powered, so allow a little time before you get your details). Thanks to John for making this available to readers.

On the website, voting has been continuing, and remains pretty tight. The current state of play:

In the face of an extended economic recession companies will:
keep CSR as a priority 204 (38%)
cut budgets, but still focus on key issues 222 (42%)
drop CSR as an unaffordable luxury 104 (20%)

Thanks to the 530 people that have voted so far. Still time to make your own views known.


Anti-corruption enforcement strengthens but problems remain

Anti-corruption measures have become stronger around the world, according to nearly 70 percent of executives surveyed for a new report, however around a third say that corrupt business practices are still getting worse.

South Africa: Lawsuit against companies support for apartheid to progress in US

An appeal to the US Supreme Court against a lawsuit accusing major international companies of aiding South Africa's previous apartheid system has fallen on a technicality, meaning that the case will now proceed.

Norway: StatoilHydro pushes Norway to highest ever carbon emissions

StatoilHydro has been blamed for being responsible for a 3 percent increase in Norway's total carbon emissions last year, due to gas flaring at one of its plants in northern Norway.

Namibia: Companies failing to rise to the challenge of HIV/AIDS

Companies in Namibia are failing to get to grips with the realities of HIV/AIDS, according to a report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

EU: Finance ministers considering clampdown on 'excessive pay' for executives

The chairman of the group of European finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, has said that they are looking for ways to reign in what he described as scandalous pay packages for business senior executives.

Brazil: Companies launch carbon reporting programme

Eleven major Brazilian companies, along with six Brazilian subsidiaries of mulitnational firms, have signed up to a new programme to report greenhouse gas emissions.

Japan: Victims of 40 year old food poisoning incident to sue company

The company that manufactured cooking oil contaminated with persistent toxins, Kanemi Soko K.K. and two of its officials, are being sued by 26 people newly acknowledged as victims of a mass food poisoning incident which occurred 40 years ago in 1968.

GlaxoSmithKline wins approval for bird flu vaccine

GlaxoSmithKline has been granted EU approval for a new vaccine designed to combat the feared outbreak of a human-spread variant of the H5N1 bird influenza.


The marketing that dare not speak its name

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 16 May 2008

In 2002 Sony Ericsson paid actors to pose as tourists, who would ask passers-by to take their photograph with the company's new camera phone. Whilst doing so, the actors would rave about how great the phone was, without disclosing their affiliation. It was just one of the more blatant examples of what has come to be called 'stealth marketing'.

Previous edition - No 127 | Following edition - No 129

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