Real meaning of CSR

Mark Ritson is right when he says brand repositioning is almost always impossible (Rebranding cannot plug credibility gap, MW 13 May). But it can work – just take a look at M&S or Skoda. However, it will only work when the intentions and beliefs of what is created are a) authentic and b) delivered upon. Otherwise, yes, it is a sham of a marketing paint job – albeit a very expensive and neatly articulated one in BP’s case. In as much as this was “greenwash” it was also “brandwash”. And in both counts the brand and marketing industry are as culpable as the corporates who commission them.

Beyond belief: BP’s repositioning

Perhaps this is a sign it is high time the marketing community takes stock of its contribution to corporate social responsibility. If a business wants to rebrand itself in a certain direction but isn’t prepared to back it with authenticity then, fellow brand purveyors, please just say no! CSR means morality before profits – not just another marketing spin.

Equally, we as consumers have our part to play. Now that the charade of BP’s cynical intensions has been exposed, we can vote in the best way we can in a consumer-led democracy – with our wallets.

And thinking ahead, this episode will become increasingly relevant over the next couple of years. It highlights the type of duplicity that could be revealed as a chastened financial services industry begins the process of its own “guiltwash”. Clearly, “speaking with forked tongue” is not above the most revered brands and it is best nipped in the bud sooner rather than later.

Tim Bleszynski, Co-founder, New Brand Tribalism

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