Corporate Social Responsibility
The Harvard School of Public Health released a study Thursday revealing that the amount of nicotine in cigarettes has increased significantly since the major American tobacco companies signed the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) in 1998. Predictably, Philip Morris (PM), in a media release available at their web site, denies the study results. The U.S. Surgeon General in 1988 warned that nicotine is as addictive as heroin and cocaine, but these drugs don't have decades of sophisticated R&D behind them aimed at heightening their addictiveness. Cigarettes, among the most highly engineered consumer products in the world, deliver nicotine into more people's bodies more times every day than aspirin. Still, they remain unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Wal-Mart had already announced an attempt to rewrite its public image through the hire of ex-political operatives and creation of a social responsibility ad campaign. The company has now released an internal study claiming that the overwhelming majority (90 percent) of its workers have health coverage--just not Wal-Mart's health coverage.
Voluntary carbon trading markets in the United States have doubled in volume over the past year, demonstrating that companies and consumers increasingly seek to offset their role in creating greenhouse gasses by fostering reductions in carbon elsewhere. But the market lacks quality control and a reliable referee. Some companies may take more interest in pushing brand identity than good works.
An article published in the medical journal Tobacco Control reveals Philip Morris' "Project Sunrise" (1995-2006), a long-term plan to bolster the social acceptability of smoking and ensure the company's future.
One of the projects funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been to immunize children living in Ebocha, Nigeria. But at the same time the foundation owns shares in the French oil company, Eni, that pollutes the residents air and water by the open air burning of gas considered to be waste.
Concerned about consumer backlash, the World Diamond Council (WDC) has pumped $15 million into a public relations and education campaign to respond to the new movie "Blood Diamond." The film, starring Leonard DiCaprio, opened to generally good reviews and ranked among the top ten in popularity during the holiday season.
"Large American nonprofits spend at least $7.6 billion per year on marketing and public relations," according to a consulting firm's analysis of U.S. tax data. "$7.6 billion annually in spending for advertising, communications, public relations and branding ... is not an insignificant business sector," writes Tom Watson. "Total spending on public relations in the U.S. reached some $3.7 billion last year. ...