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CSR

Edelman Clarifies Position on Climate Change, Executive Firing

edelman-logoWe have to admit that we’re a little surprised that VICE has assumed the role of public relations overseer, but last week the publisher’s Motherboard blog earned a lot of attention by calling out Edelman over its decision not to join other firms in promising The Guardian that they would not represent climate change “skeptics.”

This was an interesting development particularly because in 2009, then-VP of CSR/Sustainability Mark Grundy told our co-founder Joe Ciarallo that “in terms of the facts, I am in no doubt of where we are with this.”

As if to further prove that the publisher is now a force to be reckoned with, Richard Edelman called the blogger himself to explain — and the follow-up post ran yesterday.

Senior Editor Brian Merchant’s query: how, if Edelman believes firmly in climate change, can it also represent the American Petroleum Institute?

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Ben & Jerry’s Goes Rogue on GMOs

ben-and-jerrys

Here’s a very interesting report on some internal conflict within the massive conglomerate we call Unilever: seems that the company and one of its most valued properties disagree on the issue of genetically modified organisms in food.

Matthew Boyle of Bloomberg reports that, while Ben & Jerry’s strongly supports its home state’s new law requiring GMO foods to be labeled as such, Unilever does not. Shocking, we know.

Yet Unilever allows the ice cream kings to be outspoken in their advocacy because, as an analyst tells Bloomberg:

“I don’t think they will ever want the potentially massive negative PR of trying to silence B&J.”

Well, yeah.

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Johnson’s Baby Sort-of Apologizes to Concerned Moms

You may have heard at some point over the past few years that Johnson & Johnson’s massive baby products line encountered something of a credibility problem.

A quick recap: in 2009, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics called upon the company to remove certain proven carcinogenic ingredients from its baby shampoos. J&J promised to remove the elements and earned a spot atop the Forbes “America’s most trusted brands” list for 2011. However, a subsequent report claimed that, despite the company’s promise to make safer products, one would have to buy its “natural” shampoo (which was twice as expensive) to ensure the absence of those carcinogens.

In January, the company announced that it had reached its goal of removing certain potentially toxic chemicals but continued walking a PR tightrope by both claiming that its current products are safe and promising to remove more such ingredients by 2015. This announcement only came after a series of embarrassing recalls led to the resignation of J&J’s CEO.

That long, winding damage control road leads us to this clip, released this week and produced by RF|Binder.

The message: we hear you and send you good vibes…even though your fears are completely unfounded. Here’s the corporate statement to go along with the campaign.

Will it work? Adweek notes that it’s part of a campaign that will “see 40 more videos released throughout the rest of the year”…but will the message resonate when the company has yet to complete its ongoing chemical purge?

General Mills Holds Its Nose, Leaps into Climate Change

GM-cereal

General Mills, the maker of Cheerios and other such consumer goods, took a bold step into the CSR pool this week by announcing that it would make changes to its agricultural practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously mounting related advocacy efforts designed to affect public policy.

What does this mean? From the company’s post on the matter yesterday:

“Nearly 2/3 of the GHG emissions and 99 percent of water use throughout our value chain occur upstream of our direct operations in agriculture, ingredients and packaging”

So they’re insisting that their suppliers get on board by reducing those emissions and “achiev[ing] zero net deforestation in high-risk supply chains by 2020″…or else. We assume.

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Harley Davidson: When Eco PR Just Doesn’t Fit

Electric Harley

Wouldn’t a plug-in version of this be considered a kids’ toy?

It is no secret that the world needs protection from its inhabitants. What with all the alerts about our ozone being ravaged by coal, smog, pollution, and all that hair spray they put in the Kardashians’ wigs, it’s a miracle we can even breathe.

That’s why “Green” or “Eco” (for ecology, just in case) PR is a big thing now. Appliances use less electricity; even light bulbs have gone the way of the HDTV. And yet, impressive as Tesla’s electric cars may sometimes be, they’re still up against oil lobbyists and those Koch guys.

And now, entering into the fray: Harley-Davidson!

Wait, what?!

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Apple Highlights Environmental Efforts, Counters Greenwashing Charges

Apple has suffered from significant challenges to its reputation for ethics and business practices due to dirty laundry aired during its ongoing legal battles.

But when it comes to CSR and particularly environmental practices, the company seems to be doing fairly well. Today brought this campaign anticipating Earth Day:

As several outlets have noted, it’s not simply a high-budget video documenting internal operations.

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Millennial Investors More Focused on CSR as a Value Indicator

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Ever had trouble convincing your clients of the value of CSR efforts? We’re guessing the answer to that question is “yes” because, in most cases, businesses judge the importance of public sentiment on the degree to which it influences investor relations.

We found a recent piece in The Guardian encouraging in that regard, however: as the average age of the investor class goes down, its interest in CSR and “profit with purpose” goes up.

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Apple: ‘No, We Don’t Get Our Supplies from Murderous Congolese Warlords’

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 12.03.48 PM

Apple made a big move on the CSR front this morning (not that any of its acolytes care): the company released its annual “Supplier Responsibility Report” clarifying that none of the the materials used in the metals that form its products come from “areas engaged in warfare.”

This statement means that Apple does not do direct or indirect business with the warlords who run the “conflict minerals” trade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ever seen Blood Diamonds? Same story, different country.

Of course this is Apple, so the report doubles as a beautiful piece of not-quite-interactive content explaining the many facets of its CSR efforts. There’s a screenshot after the jump…

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CVS Quits Smoking, Gets Defensive About It

16601_10152165436598116_438158652_nThis morning’s biggest CSR news comes via the country’s largest pharmacy chain. As announced in this press release, CVS Caremark will stop selling all tobacco products at its more than 6,000 U.S. locations on October 1st, 2014.

The change comes in the wake of a January surgeon general’s report, which arrived exactly 50 years after the first and tied smoking even more directly to diseases like diabetes, colon cancer and erectile dysfunction (eek). The company spun it as a way of aligning its services and interests, which include public health—nice copy on the tagline, BTW. Here’s the key quote from CEO Larry J. Merlo:

 ”Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health. Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

This is a very smart move for several reasons.

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Western Clothing Brands Escape Blame in Deadly Factory Collapse

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(Pic via Associated Press/A.M. Ahad)

It was one of 2013′s most tragic stories—and it should have been one of the year’s biggest PR disasters as well.

Unfortunately, as we enter 2014 it looks like the Western clothing companies involved in April’s Bangladeshi factory collapse have washed their hands of it in every possible way.

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