Ad Critique

Actions speak louder than words: exercising corporate social responsibility

22, October, 2011


The context: Egypt’s peaceful revolution had left many public arenas in a dishevelled state. Individuals in civic society spontaneously got together to care for their shared spaces and return them to their previous state. This surge of civic pride was impulsive and showed that the community cared about its environment and felt that everyone shared responsibility for the improvements.

The concept: Household cleaning product Persil detergent and Pril dishwashing liquid were involved in volunteer drives to clean up districts affected during the uprisings. Volunteers cleaned, scrubbed and repainted sidewalks and walls either damaged or grafitti’d. The objective of the activity was to help people make Egypt a cleaner and better place. The companies provided rubbish trucks and rubbish bags to dispose of trash, tools like brooms, paint and brushes, and general cleaning products made by Persil and Pril’s parent company Henkel. Adverts to explain the project were aired for free on TV channels, and these were supported by social media campaigns. The concept of the project was “El balad, baladna”, “this place is our country”.

What we liked: This was not a brand promotion exercise. This was about genuinely engaging with the community. There was a rising sense of community spirit, and the brands aimed to make their contribution to it. Muslim consumers will look to see if brands are investing in the community and this is a great example of where they have played their part as good community members. However, the brands have been careful not to ‘take over’ the initiative, respecting that it is being led by the community itself, and being sensitive to be participative and supportive. Further, they have not bragged about their contribution, a key part of community engagement. Muslim consumers are very quick to frown on those who appear to be doing good works just for show, and just to boast about their work. The brands let their good works speak for themselves, and played a team member role pulling together with the rest of the community.