Businesses engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) for a variety of reasons – perhaps it’s a part of their design, perhaps a beloved employee or founder has been affected by a certain cause personally, or perhaps it’s a part of a larger strategic alignment. Regardless of the reason, consumers may read stories about CSR programs with a bit of suspicion. Is it lightly veiled marketing? How much is the business actual giving? These and other questions come to mind to a consumer aware of a business’s primary profit motive.
Celebrating milestones and anniversaries can be an authentic way for businesses to highlight their CSR work. This could be featuring the number of individuals served through their efforts or the number of volunteer hours given by employees, for example. It could also be tied to a timing benchmark of note, like the company’s years of support, or a national month of awareness.
AFLAC features its work through the AFLAC Childhood Cancer Campaign in September, which is known as National Childhood Cancer Month. They utilize this to roll out new initiatives and highlight their success thus far. This past September, AFLAC supported the development and launch of a short film called Moments of Joy that follows the stories of several childhood cancer patients and their families. The documentary includes coverage of the My Special AFLAC Duck, a plush toy robot that utilizes artificial intelligence to help comfort young patients. The robot, which was designed by AFLAC, and has received numerous awards including a notable one at the Consumer Electronics Show, helps encourage medical play, provides a voice for non-verbal or pre-verbal patients, and brings reassurance and cheer to young children fighting their cancer battles.
AFLAC highlighted the film over social media, live streamed the film’s launch, and is supporting the film makers with paid advertising on their behalf. However, they turned the spotlight AFLAC received towards the children and their families featured in the film, calling them courageous, and towards the larger issue of childhood cancer in the country, emphasizing that over 15,000 children are affected annually. AFLAC also utilizes the platform to further describe the larger landscape, including the disparity of federal funding, explaining that only 4% of federal cancer research and treatment funds go towards childhood cancer.
A critical part of why this is positively received is that AFLAC feature the individuals in need and the nonprofits that directly provide those services prominently, rather than the company as a champion. They also utilize the media time to invite others to get involved and share the space they occupy; acknowledging their own limitations. This reads authentically to a viewer and all of the press coverage they received was particularly positive.
AFLAC has distributed over 5,000 of its My Special AFLAC Ducks at no cost around the country and has been supporting childhood cancer research and treatment for 24 years. They have raised and donated more than 130 million dollars towards this cause from independent sales agents and employees.
Sign up here to receive the highlights from the Starfish Impact blog in your inbox.