The emergence of Corporate Social Responsibility

When brands join the movement

2004 marks a turning point in the industry, with the first significant Corporate Responsibility campaigns by multinational companies. Dove can be identified as an early bird, with its Real Beauty campaign proning diversity in beauty and redefining its industry norms.

On the agency side, 4 of the 6 major holding groups introduce a CR section in their annual reports for the first time in 2004, disclosing the measures and initiatives taken for social good, ethics and sustainability. The industry is already starting to take responsibility for its potential impact on beneficiaries, both positive and negative.

While there are different stances on the legitimacy and meaning of CSR in the industry, it has become a major communication strategy and is being encouraged by the United Nations through the Global Compact, launched in 2000 and particularly popular among European businesses. Since then, the amount of brands using advertising to speak up about social issues is on the rise.

CSR advertising was initially centralised in Western countries, and gradually spread to become a global phenomenon. In 2020, the CSR campaigns collected by ACT Responsible came from 49 countries spread across all continents.

Over 1,300 campaigns collected in the past 20 years are from corporations

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