Your weekly helping of five interesting ideas to take you into the weekend. Curated by Good Business and delivered straight to your inbox first thing on a Friday, if you subscribe here.
(1) Corporate Crisis Response
Corporate giving is usually - rightly - designed to be strategic and a point of differentiation. But there is always a role for philanthropy, and giving where need is greatest. Yemen – the Arab world's poorest country – has endured a bloody conflict since March 2015 between Houthi rebels and its government, and the violence has left more than seven million people at risk of starvation. When humanitarian crises erupt, the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) raises funds to support its 13 member aid charities (including British Red Cross, Oxfam, and Save The Children) in delivering vital relief, working with its corporate partners, known as the Rapid Response Network (RRN), to launch effective and efficient public appeals. Media partners donate airtime to broadcast the appeal, technology partners enable the DEC to collect and process donations, and major high street banks facilitate giving by accepting donations in-branch and via ATMs. Some members are also finding other ways to use their assets and services to help those affected by the crisis. Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest (both owned by RBS) for example, are offering customers free money transfers to family and friends in the Yemen during the appeal. DEC campaigns illustrate the power of coordinated collective action, and serve as an important reminder that responding quickly and efficiently in a crisis is as important as strategic giving. If you would like to donate to the appeal you can do so here.
(2) Retail Therapy
A new ad for Ikea from Swedish ad agency Åkestam Holst sees the furniture brand’s products renamed after common Google searches for various relationship dilemmas. Titled Retail Therapy, the campaign sees a search for ‘My friend only talks about himself’ assigned to a dressing table with a mirror, or ‘How to make long distance work’ attributed to a moving box. Some solutions are witty: "My daughter is out all night" guides users to a disco ball, for example, and "The attraction is gone" points to magnets. While the clever campaign is likely generate a lot of organic and word-of-mouth coverage for the retailer, the unique approach also doubles as an ingenious SEO play, with Ikea’s products presumably travelling up the Google search engine each time someone searches for these issues. A great example of a simple campaign that is well-executed and brings to life (albeit in a tongue-in-cheek way) the company vision of creating a better everyday life for people.
(3) Swatch of Hope
Pantone unveiled their Colour of the Year for 2017, a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade called Greenery that “bursts forth to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment”. Every year since 2000, the colour company has chosen a color that that it expects to appear prominently in fashion, products, design and life – as well as reflect prevailing mood or sentiments. The Institute’s Colour of the Year decisions have increasingly featured political undertones with last year’s two colors – serenity and rose quartz (a.k.a. baby blue and light pink) – chosen to better reflect the gender-bending move toward “equality and fluidity” taking place across society (and fashion). This year’s choice of ‘Greenery’ represents a commitment to the environment as well as a rallying cry for reconnection – with nature, but with one another too. “We know what kind of world we are living in: one that is very stressful and very tense,“ said Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “This is the color of hopefulness, and of our connection to nature. It speaks to what we call the ‘re’ words: regenerate, refresh, revitalize, renew.” Pantone’s approach to contextualising what used to be mostly a design decision in terms of broader social and political trends is yet another indication of the need for brands today to decide what they stand for and engage with the issues that affect their audiences.
(4) Fob Fitness
A health and community building scheme called Beat The Street (BTS) that encourages physical activity by turning a town into a game where people earn points as they walk, cycle and run around to sensors on lampposts and swipe them to get points is proving successful in health terms. According to results from 53,000 participants, the proportion of adults who report walking on five to seven days per week increases from 47% to 61% during the game phase. Pupils and parents from one school in a struggling area of Salford where unemployment is high and the number of people describing their health as bad or very bad is well above the national average travelled 3,288 miles on fobbing expeditions over two months to outwalk the other 23 participating schools and 13 community groups. The gamification of physical activity is nothing new – we have been playing games in playgrounds and in sport for centuries – but what is new is our ability to use tech-enabled gamification to track the effectiveness and longevity of any change in behaviour. Global phenomenon Pokémon Go – an augmented-reality game that caused a massive spike in physical activity when it was released this Summer – caused keen players to walk an average of an extra 955 steps a day in the first week of using the game. However, a recent study has shown that additional exertion soon dwindled, and by week six participants were taking no more steps than they had been before they downloaded the game. In contrast, BTS is able to produce a sustained change in players’ behaviour, with around half of players continuing to be more active six months after completing the game. These results support the notion that it’s not the complexity of the technology that matters in behaviour change, but the insight used to develop an approach that taps into the motivations and needs of the targeted community.
(5) SBTs or SDGs?
A recent survey provides an interesting snapshot on how corporate sustainability executives view various global frameworks and mechanisms to inform their sustainability planning, measurement and strategy. Pertinently, it found that science-based targets have been moved up the corporate agenda more quickly than Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with more than half of sustainability leaders either beginning to apply or fully embedding the methodology within their organisation. However the SDGs don’t fall too far behind, with over 80% of leaders saying the approach was either on their radar or beginning to be applied in their strategy. Here at Good Business, we think both frameworks have great value. We’re working with some clients to set science-based targets, and last week our founder Giles gave a speech at Full Circle in Brussels last week on the potential for businesses to deliver transformational change against the SDGs. You can read it here.