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While the grand feasts of Thanksgiving begin, families across the nation are digging deep in their closets, searching for their warmest jackets, while dusting off their thermoses to prepare for a different type of tradition.  As the early settlers landed on Plymouth rock, they unknowingly started the oldest American traditions – Thanksgiving. So naturally, just as the pilgrims gathered together so many years ago, we too gather together in herds, waiting for our local Best Buy to open, hot cocoa and coupons in hand, ready to face the madness that is Black Friday.

Okay, so maybe Black Friday shopping isn’t quite that far reaching, but as more and more stores open their door on Thanksgiving night, it’s increasingly difficult to deny that corporate interests have altered the way we celebrate the day that has always been intended to count our blessings. Many consumers have taken notice, and public outcry has not fallen on deaf ears.

What is #GivingTuesday?

One of the results of this corporate criticism is #GivingTuesday, a collaborative digital movement, whose website describes the social media phenomenon as “a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.” #GivingTuesday positions itself as a response to the corporatization of Thanksgiving, urging individuals and organizations to make an impact in their communities through the gifts of their time and resources. As of the writing of this post, the social media movement has resulted in over 1.6 million gifts, and $177,000,000 donated!

What is corporate social responsibility?

The question many organizations are having to answer now, is how they are going to position their brands moving forward. At the heart of this debate is the role of corporate social responsibility (CSR).Corporate social responsibility,  is a organization’s initiatives to assess take responsibility for its effect on environmental and social wellbeing. It involves joining a bigger movement to give back and “do better” for our world. To better understand this discussion, let’s look at two different brand’s very distinct approach to addressing social issues.

“Brand A” creates a commercial, featuring Kendall Jenner solving social issues with a can of soda. “Brand B” publicly commits to hiring 10,000 Veterans within the year, and 10,000 refugees globally. Both brands are trying to appeal to a younger, growing segment that cares deeply about social issues and giving back. Which brand do you think did a better job of engaging with this coveted segment? “Brand A” is of course Pepsi, who created possibly the most tone-deaf advertisement of the year.

Meanwhile, Starbucks quietly made (and delivered on) social promises which included not only the aforementioned hiring policies, but also commitment to global fair trade and more. The result? Data from Business Insider suggests that Starbucks is steadily taking soda drinkers and converting them to frappuccino addicts.  In fact, in 2016, coffee was a whopping 9 billion dollar industry, a growth of 22% over four years, while soda has been on the decline since 1998. Now, we’re not attributing that decline solely to Corporate Social Responsibility, but certainly the infamous Kendall Jenner Pepsi fiasco did not help elevate the brand in the watchful millennial eye.

What is the moral of this story?

The answer to marketing to millennials is genuine, honest corporate social responsibility. In the world of social media, where immediate reactions and critical analysis reign supreme, it’s no longer enough for companies to just talk about it, and implementing meaningful policies is more important than empty gestures. And what better way to participate in corporate social responsibility than by getting on board with #GivingTuesday. If your company doesn’t have a nonprofit partner or isn’t working toward (good) change, the holiday season is the perfect time to “do better.”

Giving back has never been easier, with opportunities for meaningful contributions just a click away. That being said, making social responsibility a part of your brand essence has perhaps never been harder. If you need help telling your story to interested consumers, feel free to get in touch with the creatives at Caledon Virtual. And whether you’re wearing expandable pants at the dinner table, or camping out in front of Target, we wish our readers, clients, and everyone a delightful Thanksgiving.

Learn more about #GivingTuesday and find out how you can get involved in your local community, your state, country or a world-wide cause.