Quick, name 5 CSR initiatives from Indian corporates? Takes a while to make list? It could be partly because of the low profile companies seem to maintain about their CSR initiatives. In my view, the mantras followed by corporates for effective CSR programmes are: (a) first do, then talk (b) getting other people to talk about it is better than talking about it yourself. Sakthi Masala of Tamil Nadu employs disabled women in their factories – they even got the Energy and Resources Institute’s (TERI) CSR Award. P&G India has been involved in the Shiksha campaign for long. These and several others (including the e-choupal initiative) use advertising less and PR more for their social causes.
Aircel thought differently with their ‘Save our Tigers‘ campaign. They decided to go in for a high-decibel, multimedia campaign attempting to raise awareness about the low count of Tigers in India. It is a slick campaign overall, utilizing all the weapons in the marketing armour: celebrities, new media, PR etc. But it’s visibility may well be it’s strength and weakness. Now every Farmville-playing, what-I-had-for-breakfast tweeting web addict knows that there are only 1411 tigers left. Many of them would have re-tweeted, joined the Facebook group and felt that they have done their bit for Saving the Tiger. And move on to other things in life. Is that the desired end result of the campaign. Am sure not, but could very well end up being so.
This is not dismiss the effort as pointless. From a marketing strategy POV, taking up a niche cause was a smart move. Now no corporate will go near a social cause with the words ‘Save’ and ‘Tiger’ attached to it. Aircel pretty much has created a category, as it were. They’ve also put in huge monies and tied up with credible names like WWF. So at least among the city slickers and TV-watchers (which is a huge number) there is an awareness of Tiger’s dwindling numbers.
But the real change can only happen at the Government level or among those who interact with the wildlife – people unlikely to be influenced by TV campaigns. Or so I think. The Save Our Tigers campaign comes across as advertising dependent and leaves some critical questions unanswered or left ambiguous:
(a) what specific steps can I take to make a difference. ‘Speak up’ is not good enough for me. If it is a monetary contribution – ask for a specific amount. The world over, the hallmark of fund-raising direct marketing campaigns is to ‘ask for a specific amount’ for charitable institutions.
(b) what steps does the Govt need to take to ensure that the numbers go down? How do we track or control that?
c) what is the next phase of the campaign? how do I know if the campaign is successful?
Thanks to the multi-media effort, while everyone seems to know about Stripey and may go ‘aaawww, cho chweet‘ to the TV commercial, it takes a lot more than that to save the Tiger. Hopefully, the next phase of this campaign will tell us how.