"The world's best-known oil companies are pouring on the charm as they get ready this week to parade another round of fat profits before a public that is feeling suddenly poorer. The spotlight will shine on Exxon on Thursday and Chevron on Friday. Such advertising makes sense after a summer with oil at nearly $150 a barrel and a fall likely to bring renewed scrutiny of their investments and tax breaks.
Corporate Social Responsibility
"The ultimate selling proposition might just be saving the planet," said International Advertising Association (IAA) executive director Michael Lee.
The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) is alarmed about the extent of corporate greenwashing. The authority's chief executive, Frank Goodman, explained, "You are not allowed to say your product is good for the environment unless you can prove this.
"We do not want children to smoke," British American Tobacco (BAT) declares on its website. But the company that describes itself as the "world's most international tobacco group" routinely violates its own voluntary international marketing and advertising standards, according to a July 1, 2008 BBC-TV This World investigation.
Over the next week, campaigners from around the United Kingdom will converge on the site of a proposed expansion of the coal-fired Kingsnorth Power Station and participate in civil disobedience protests. The company behind the proposal, E.ON UK, a subsidiary of the German energy company E.ON, is so worried by the prospect of the planned civil disobedience campaign that it has hired the PR firm Edelman, to see if it can help ensure that the company's proposal retains government support.
A recent investigation by BBC Television showed British American Tobacco (BAT) violating its own voluntary marketing and advertising codes in Malawi, Mauritius and Nigeria. Contrary to BAT's public pronouncements that it doesn't want children to smoke, the company was caught using marketing tactics in these countries that are known to appeal to young people, like advertising and selling single cigarettes, and sponsoring non-age-restricted, product branded musical entertainment.
As trading has become more global and corporations have become more multinational, countries started discovering that they have little recourse to rein in the harmful behavior of corporations. As public clamor to regulate multinationals has grown, companies have increasingly responded by adopting "voluntary codes of conduct." But what are the real purposes for these codes? Are they just window dressing, or worse?
You've heard the term "greenwashing." It refers to corporations that try to appear "green" without reducing their negative impact on the environment.
Since 2002, the group Breast Cancer Action has promoted its "Think Before You Pink" campaign. It's fighting "pinkwashing," which is when corporations try to boost sales by associating their products with the fight against breast cancer. Pinkwashing is a form of slacktivism -- a campaign that makes people feel like they're helping solve a problem, while they're actually doing more to boost corporate profits. Pinkwashing has been around for a while, but is now reaching almost unbelievable levels.
"After waging an aggressive public relations campaign against Wal-Mart for three years, the company’s full-time, union-backed critics, who once vowed never to let up, are putting down their cudgels," writes Michael Barbaro.
When a patient checks into a hospital or goes to see a doctor, they are typically handed a booklet called "Notice of Privacy Practices" and are asked to sign a document acknowledging that they received the information. Patients assume that these "privacy practices" are in place to protect their personal information and that doctors and hospitals will keep their information in strictest confidence.