‘Triple bottom line.’ ‘Impact investing.’ ‘Sustainability.’ Regardless which buzzwords you prefer, the notion of companies investing in practices that are both good for business and society has certainly gained traction over the past few years. Michael Porter’s concept of “Shared Value” is no exception, emphasizing that profit-making from social good is not just a possibility, but a priority.
As a result, hundreds of top companies have begun to realign their community giving to more directly affect their bottom lines. Initiatives that once received very limited budget (usually pulled from the company’s foundation, corporate responsibility, or corporate communications teams) are now finally gaining significant marketing dollars behind them.
Over the past year, Google has emerged as a leader in investing advertisement and marketing dollars to create Shared Value. In last summer’s “The Web is What You Make of It” ad campaign for example, Google created an emotional appeal to stop LGBT bullying and teen suicide in support of the It Gets Better movement. The ad went viral instantly with over 2.1 million views on YouTube, along with a well-placed timeslot during Fox’s hit show Glee. The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years.
Google’s video was highly successful in generating awareness around the issue of LGBT bullying, and the ad testing particularly well among males and females aged 16-20. But the one major thing to note is that the video was NOT a public service announcement. It was still very much an advertisement for Google Chrome, showcasing the features and functionality of the web browser. As a result, Google’s ad effectively marketed both the cause and the product to create Shared Value for the company.
Google debuted a second advertisement of cause-driven content last fall in honor of prostate cancer in a movement otherwise known as “Movember.” Each November, thousands of men around the world proudly sport mustaches in an attempt to raise awareness for men’s health issues and generate funds for organizations like LIVESTRONG and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Again, Google’s marketing investment showcased the scale of the movement, while spotlighting the many features of the Google Chrome platform.
If you haven’t seen these two Google ads, definitely check them out. What do you think? Can investing in advertisement and marketing for social good create Shared Value and help impact the bottom line? What other companies are doing this well?