ExxonMobil, which has a reputation as the least socially responsible oil country in the world (no small feat), has been holding "a series of secret meetings with environmental and human rights groups worldwide in an effort to change its hard-nosed public image," reports Terry Macalister. But critics such as Cindy Baxter, a spokeswoman for the Stop Esso campaign, remain unconvinced. "This looks like PR.
Corporate Social Responsibility
"Nike said today that although it has settled the suit brought against it by California consumer activist Mark Kasky, it still intends to curtail its corporate PR efforts, including the continued suspension of its social-responsibility reporting initiative," PR Week reports. "Despite the settlement, which was announced this morning, Nike said it does not plan to ramp up the PR activities that had been curtailed because of the pending lawsuit. ...
"Kraft Foods' recently announced initiatives on obesity have marked a new phase in how food companies will address Americans' concerns about food and nutrition," PR Week writes. Until now, the food industry has tried to deflect the blame for America's growing waistlines by promoting physical activity. Now Kraft and others are talking about changing products and marketing.
The American Chemistry Council is considering an advertising campaign by ad giant Ogilvy & Mather "that would convey to the American public how essential the chemical industry is to modern life." The chemical industry trade association saw the campaign proposal, which could cost several hundred thousand dollars, at its recent exclusive membership meeting, reports Michael McCoy in Chemical & Engineer News. Ogilvy's initial market research "shows that the campaign could really 'move the needle' on the public's dim view of the industry. ...
The U.S. Supreme Court voted, 6 to 3, to dismiss Nike's appeal of a California Supreme Court decision on commercial speech. The Court said the case raised "novel constitutional questions" but was not ready for the high court's attention. The case, Nike v. Kasky, centered on whether or not Nike violated California's truth-in-advertising laws with its statements about the working conditions in its overseas factories.
Following a trend reported in PR Watch, 3rd Quarter 2002 of using PR to improve the image of global capitalism, PR giant Hill & Knowlton has formed a corporate social responsibility (CSR) group. PR Week reports,
"The CSR unit will attempt to focus on providing strategic counsel and communications support to CSR programs in areas including public outreach, internal communications, financial communications, community investment, public affairs, and environmental and CSR reporting.
Inter Press Service reports that "The recent appointment of fast food giant McDonald's to the advisory board of an environmental group has drawn accusations of 'green washing' from environmentalists and led one board member to resign in protest. Paul Hawken, a well-known activist and environmentalist respected for his strong opposition to corporate globalisation, resigned two weeks ago from the Green Business Network... .
PR giant Burson-Marsteller has hired Bennett Freeman as managing director for Corporate Responsibility in the firm's U.S. Corporate and Financial Practice.
Our First Quarter 2003 issue of PR Watch detailed the British American Tobacco company's effort to reposition itself as "socially responsible." Now the Center for Public Integrity has produced a detailed report, citing internal industry documents, showing how the tobacco industry is using "social responsibility" to "prevent the enactment of a tough worldwide treaty" regulating tobacco marketing.
"Earth Day, which began 33 years ago today as a nationwide rally to clean up the planet, has become the latest victim of the corporate takeover. From Houston to Hong Kong, companies are seeking to polish their green image by sponsoring Earth Day events, which grass-roots groups and cities struggle to fund. This year, garbage haulers, coffee companies and even missile manufacturers are underwriting Earth Day festivities, a public relations strategy that has divided environmentalists and led to protests of Earth Day itself. ... Houston Earth Day 2003, held this past Saturday ...