Corporate-Culture Campaigns With Chests

Over the past three months I was reintroduced to the opportunities, and more importantly the limits of politics as a platform for meaningful, thoughtful and civil engagement with issues that living in a globalizing, evolving and ever challenging socio-economic reality confronts us with.One of the conversations not fully explored was the social and moral aspect of the economic discussion that is ensuing.   Last year, the Clapham Group launched More Media Development to put “deeds to words” … in other words, to highlight through unique campaigns the causes, such as domestic hunger, that corporate and popular culture partners can jointly promote.  These are what we call “Corporate-Culture Campaigns With Chests.”  Let me explain.Job loss is an inevitable consequence of a free market, when competition, technology and other market dynamics shift the workforce.  However, when a flourishing economy creates more jobs than are lost, labor becomes scarce and wages increase, and with this so does the standard of living.I want to challenge the thought that a growing free market by itself ensures the greatest good through some form of economic Darwinism.  Capitalism certainly is the most just and productive economic system the world has ever seen, but the market operates within a human reality, by people with a human condition who make choices with human consequence.Is the growing wealth disparity the inevitable consequence of capitalism?  Are layoffs required to increase profit or the attractiveness to a suitor?  Do we have an obligation to our pensioners, or shareholders?   How does personal responsibility and social behavior contribute to economic dysfunction?  And how does one internally govern the temptation to over consume?  These are not questions for government, but they are questions for the soul.What has been missing from the economic conversation is the moral imperative:  not just what one can or cannot do as an economic actor in a free market, but what he or she ought to do.   John Adams said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."  This is equally true for capitalism.The good news is that for every Wall Street or Main Street business bad actor making headlines, there are hundreds of businesses striving to do what is right.  The challenge for them is getting their story told so that the rest of us listen.When I was in Senate leadership and the Enron scandal ensued, I gave President Bush a book by C. S. Lewis called The Abolition of Man in which he argues that the failure of our “system” is developing leaders with great intellect, but without the character to temper their passions.  By ignoring the importance of virtue in business, we actually undermine the very foundation upon which it can flourish.“We continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible,” Lewis wrote. “You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more 'drive', or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or 'creativity'. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”The reason that The Clapham Group launched More Media Development is to work with corporate social responsibility and brand marketing offices to marry them with “cultural conduits and storytellers” such as musicians and filmmakers to promote efforts that all the parties agree advance the common good.   These “Campaigns With Chests” are win-win-wins, and potentially give the corporation a market edge with their target consumer.In a recent Neilsen Company report “two thirds of consumers around the world say they prefer to buy products and services from companies that have implemented  programs to give back to society … Nearly  half (46 percent) say they are willing to pay extra for products and services from these companies.”  These “socially-conscious consumers,” are younger. “Fifty-one percent of all respondents aged 15 to 39 are willing to pay extra for such products and services compared to 37 percent of all respondents over age 40.”We worked with Home Depot and the band Three Doors Down to support the efforts of charities that are addressing housing concerns of our veterans.  We are working with a number of corporations on one of only two concerts this year in Central Park, called The Global Festival.   And we are currently seeking a cause-corporate partnership for one of the hottest music tours of the summer.

Let me close by drawing your attention to two “Campaigns With Chests” … cause-corporate-culture projects that you can participate in.  General Mills is working with Universal Republic’s Big Machine Label Group on the Outnumber Hunger campaign in support of Feeding America  This is one of the best campaigns we have seen to date.Finally, good friends at the Campbell Soup Company are working with the National Association of Letter Carriers to promote the Stamp Out Hunger food drive this Saturday, May 12. It’s easy -- all you have to do is put food cans out at your mailbox before the mail comes.   There is no excuse, be a “consumer with a chest” and help your neighbors at this time of need.  Do the “ought” and help write a story with your good deeds. Mark Rodgers