This past fall, a group of marketers, led by the 92nd Street Y and the UN Foundation, created the first annual day of giving: Giving Tuesday. No single person owned the day and more than 2,500 corporations, non-profits, small businesses and consultancies participated to celebrate helping others. What launched as a small grassroots effort soon took on a life of its own and is now poised to grow far beyond U.S. borders.
Every day, we are seeing more and more innovative organizations and companies forming to help give back and marketers are using their skills to drive social change, change behaviors and raise awareness. Enlightened companies are no longer reticent to frame their corporate responsibility as part of their core mission, delivered to customers via products and marketing channels. Additionally, they are not shy to say it is beneficial for their business. A recent study by the Marketing Science Institute revealed that investing in socially responsible causes not only creates goodwill towards a company but also bolsters consumer perceptions of the performance of company products. In other words, doing good can actually translate into doing well.
It’s easy for me to say that giving and social good have gone mainstream. In my life, it has. I work at Fenton, a communications agency that has been dedicated to social good since its inception in 1982. Outside of work, I sit on several nonprofit boards and advise multiple others. My romantic partner Fabien, the first grandson of Jacques Cousteau, has dedicated his life to educating others about the importance of our water world and environment. Both my parents were stewards of good, as my father was a professor for more than 35 years and my mother toiled for public television.
But it’s not just me. Giving is truly becoming the new “getting.” At what other time have we seen the New York Times Magazine dedicate six pages to a professor who prides himself on sharing his time to help others?
The trend includes both global names such as Coca-Cola, Unilever, Nike and Toyota as well as smaller, cutting-edge stalwarts like Warby Parker, Panera Bread and Runa Tea. Panera Bread, for example, recently opened several Panera Cares Cafes at which customers pay according to their financial means. Profits from the ventures will be used to fund job-training programs to help elevate the disadvantaged in the area.
These companies are finding new and innovative ways to connect with their core customers and prospects—and using social good as the means of connection. In an era when listening and interacting trumps old school broadcast messaging, social tools allow companies to be authentic and transparent, and to form a 360-degree relationship with their customers.
Further, businesses are committing to longer social good programs. Given the need to partner with customers for success, a longer trajectory gives a campaign or program more time to grow and prosper. Since 2006, Bono and Bobby Shriver have been engaging private sector companies to create a licensed product with the (RED) Product logo with the purpose of raising awareness and funds to fight AIDS in Africa. More recently, when Warner Bros. wanted to fund famine victims in the Horn of Africa, its “We Can Be Heroes” program was launched as a two-year project rather than a limited one-off promotion.
One thing is clear: the social good and marketing worlds are intersecting in a powerful way. Brands, nonprofits, and social businesses have an incredible opportunity to tap into the public’s increasingly visible affinity for social good and transparency. In the pages that follow, you’ll meet some of the spectacular marketers and communicators who are doing just that.
Every Monday and Wednesday over the next five weeks, read about a new honoree who is using his or her creative smarts to effect positive change. We’ve gathered in-depth profiles that get to the heart of who these visionaries are and how they are using their time and talents for good.
President of MTV
As the president of MTV, Stephen Friedman is the barometer of what’s hip with the young demographic. He transformed the network into the cultural home of the Millennials with over 100 million Facebook fans and 9 million Twitter followers. As founder of MTV’s first pro social department, Friedman remains committed to merging business and social responsibility, a passion he shares with his audience.
Former CEO of Product (RED)
Susan Smith Ellis is the former CEO of Product (RED), a global marketing company founded by Bono whose partnerships help combat the AIDS pandemic in Africa. Known as a risk-taker, brand strategist and builder of strategic partnerships, she left a top position at Omnicom to scale up the startup (RED) from $18 to $180 million. She continues to put her exceptional talents to work for various projects and organizations as a consultant and board member.
Founder and partner of Riggs Partners
Even with a successful 30-year career as a writer, creative director and brand strategist, Cathy Rigg Monetti considers herself a work in progress. At 26, she started her own agency and at 36 cofounded a network that has donated over $15 million in marketing and creative services to nonprofits. She’s a voracious student of all things next and since 2009 has focused her efforts on socially conscious companies and nonprofit organizations.
Founder of Woodwork
After schlepping Apple computers, becoming an ordained minister, and pinning microphones on celebrities, Lane Wood finally found his true calling. From establishing charity: water (an NGO fighting to end the global water crisis) to overseeing social innovation at Warby Parker (the successful buy-a-pair, give-a-pair enterprise), Wood works with people who want to change the world. A pioneer in societal innovation, Wood recently started Woodwork, a "legacy lab" which helps build brands through meaningful and impactful stories.
Co-founder Motive and Whole World Water
Raising over $185 million and attracting a social following of over 2.5 million advocates for (RED), the organization founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver to fight AIDS in Africa, just wasn’t enough for Jenifer Willig, who started her career in advertising. She has since co-founded Motive, a social innovation consultancy driving social and economic progress, and Whole World Water, a social enterprise that united the hospitality and tourism industries to raise money for clean and safe water initiatives.
Honored by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader, David Jones excels at using creativity to change people’s behavior and address some of the bigger issues facing the world. The youngest global CEO in the history of advertising, Jones was the driving force behind Kofi Annan’s TckTckTck Campaign for Climate Justice. Ever the industry visionary, Jones is giving voice to the next generation through One Young World, a nonprofit he co-founded to provide young people with a global platform through which to effect positive change.
Founder and creative chairman, Droga5
David Droga, founder and creative chairman of Droga5, has proven repeatedly that the power of imagination is the ultimate power. After earning his stripes at top advertising agencies around the globe, Droga ventured out on his own with Droga5. Since opening in New York in 2005, this independent agency has topped just about every creative awards list. When Droga5 focused on solving social issues for organizations like UNICEF and the New York City Department of Education, the impact was worthy of a Titanium Award at Cannes.
Global CEO of Y&R
“Do it big, or stay in bed,” believes David Sable, Global CEO of Y&R since February 2011 after 35 years in the advertising business. Sable strikes a balance between creativity and innovation, advancing clients’ stories through the right channels to create new consumer experiences and have greater impact. He also serves on numerous educational and other charitable boards and committees including UNICEF’s New York Board and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
Former head of Crispin Porter + Bogusky
After being crowned the “Creative Director of the Decade” by Adweek in 2010, Alex Bogusky surprised the advertising industry by leaving Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the agency he joined in 1989 and helped grow to more than 1,000 employees around the world. Always drawn to a cause, he has since turned his attention towards the social good sector through The FearLess Revolution (a nonprofit consultancy), COMMON (a collaborative network for accelerating social ventures) and MadeMovement (a new agency dedicated to the resurgence in American manufacturing).
Co-founder and chairman of Wieden+Kennedy
Dan Wieden doesn’t just think about helping others, he just does it. As co-founder and chairman of Wieden+Kennedy, an independent agency that started with Nike, $500, and a lot of determination, Wieden grew the organization from 5 to nearly 1,200 employees by putting work and the best idea first. Wieden’s greatest talent may be empowering his fellow dreamers to find their voice, allowing employees and clients alike to flourish and create campaigns with global impact.