Aspiring to be a Mensch: Big Budget TV Spots Lead with Social Impact Messages

Aspiring to be a Mensch: Big Budget TV Spots Lead with Social Impact Messages

Being a mensch seems to connect with consumers.

Two big-budget national TV ad campaigns – one from pharma giant Pfizer and the other from the wealth management firm Ameriprise Financial – are trying to drive sales through storylines involving the kind of social impact work usually reserved for nonprofits and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.

In the case of Pfizer, taking the fibromyalgia drug Lyrica allows a man to do what he loves, donning a blue “volunteer” shirt and renovating a house

Ameriprise shows a middle-aged couple who presumably followed the investment plan created by their financial advisor so they can become foster parents instead of empty nesters.

Gone is the imagery of selfish Americans driving flashy sports cars or boarding luxury cruises – at least on these two campaigns.

Marketers are hearing from multiple sources that today’s consumers respond favorably to companies committed to CSR. 

A study by IBM and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Corporate Citizenship found brand reputation improves when a company shares stories about social impact and environmental achievements. 

The Reputation Institute’s recent corporate reputation ranking called out CSR as a main driver. “Companies with a strong sense of purpose who are committed to improving on all dimensions of reputation – especially governance and citizenship – tend to be the most highly regarded,” said CMO Allen Bonde. 

That’s certainly our contention at 3BL Media, where our clients share a steady stream of videos, articles, blogs, photos, infographics and press releases about their work in sustainability and corporate responsibility. To see this depicted by actors during prime time ad campaigns is also terrific.

Even some small businesses are punching above their weight in CSR.  In 3BL Media’s hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts, real estate developer Jonathan Wright was lauded on the front page of the local newspaper for offering a handicapped-accessible luxury condo unit to an Iraqi refugee family.

“You don’t see that kind of extraordinary giving,” the executive director of Catholic Charities in Springfield, Kathryn Buckley-Brawner, told the Daily Hampshire Gazette. “It’s just really amazing to see that kind of outpouring of compassion.”