Pull your head out of the sand

I am writing in response to Sean Brierley’s piece “It’s time brands stood down from the moral high ground”.

While Brierley correctly identifies the increased scrutiny placed on brandsí ethical policies and the often inadequate responses that cause-related marketing offers, his conclusion – that brands should therefore not concern themselves with ethics – smacks of the ostrich sticking its head in the sand. He suggests that cause-related marketing is the reason that businesses are increasingly being held accountable for their ethical record, rather than the record itself being the problem.

Clearly companies need to walk the walkí as well as talk the talkí but being a good corporate citizen is about implementing an ethical stance across all aspects of the business and being prepared to be judged on that basis.

The recent furore over the use of child labour in the production of some of the UK’s leading chocolate brands serves as a timely illustration of the fact that brands do not operate in a vacuum. Companies are under ever-increasing pressure from Government, media and public to address issues of this nature. The smart ones will look for more than a short-term fixí and seek to seize the initiative by building a long-term brand strategy which links corporate aspirations with those of customers.

A recent MORI poll conducted for The Forster Company found that over a third of people wanted companies to make sure “their own house” was in order by following ethical business practices. It would be extraordinary if marketing departments chose to ignore this fact and assume these issues are only relevant to their colleagues in PR or corporate affairs.

Jilly Forster

The Forster Company

London SE1

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