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The Soup’s Just Right

May 5, 2010

Photo credit: Dennis Goedegebuure via Creative Commons license through Flickr.

It’s not often that I hear angels sing “Hallelujah!” when I read a press release. But for me, it happened yesterday when I read the Campbell Soup Company’s announcement about the release of its 2010 CSR report.

Ok…  so it wasn’t exactly angels singing, it was really the ring tone of the guy who sits next to me at the office and it was the Monday Night Football Fanfare Theme. Which is still equally dramatic in my view.

Fans of CitizenPolity may remember our interview with VP of CSR Dave Stangis. He’s been busy. Campbell’s was listed, for the first time, as #12 in the Top 100 Corporate Citizens List by Corporate Responsibility Magazine. Not too shabby.

But why am I celebrating about another CSR report? There are two things that make Campbell’s report stand out:

1) Goals.

2) Focus.

Funny, huh? Just two simple things that can be boiled down to two words. You see, most CSR reports are garbled messages alluding to saving the world and showing pictures of multi-racial children and children of multiple races holding up oversize beach ball globes. Ok, that’s a little too cynical (just refer to my earlier post on the Top 5 Reasons Why Your CSR Communication Strategy Misses the Mark [psst, it’s Sign #1] to see why I dislike that mistake). [Here I am stepping down off of my soapbox.]

More importantly, however, I’m excited about Campbell’s report for what it is, not what it isn’t.

First, the goals. They’re impressive. But for a different reason than you might think. They’re impressive for their breadth, depth, and most of all, their simplicity.  Here they are:

CSR Corporate Imperative 2020 Destination Goals

  • Nourishing Our Consumers — Continually advance the nutrition and wellness profile of our products.
  • Nourishing Our Neighbors — Measurably improve the health of young people in our hometown communities by reducing hunger and childhood obesity by 50%. Supporting Goals
    • Make a positive impact in the lives of 100 million youth through our volunteer, community, and signature programs.
  • Nourishing Our Employees — Achieve 100% employee engagement in CSR and sustainability.
  • Nourishing Our Planet — Cut the environmental footprint of our product portfolio in half (water use and GHG emissions/tonne product produced). Supporting Goals
    • Reduce energy use by 35% per tonne of product produced, and source 40% of the energy used by the company from renewable or alternative energy sources.
    • Recycle 95% of waste generated on a global basis.
    • Deliver 75% of global packaging from sustainable materials (renewable, recyclable, or from recycled content).
    • Obtain 50% of company revenue from products utilizing packaging with an improved environmental footprint (material reduction and/or substitution and supply chain efficiencies).
    • Reduce water use by 20% and energy use by 30% per pound in our top five agricultural ingredients.

These goals are simple – just four of them. But they are SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based). And the implications if they’re achieved are significant. What’s really interesting to me is that these aren’t goals the company is going to achieve in the next year, or two, or five. Ten year goals are a statement and if you, as a company, are going to publish them in such a venue as a CSR report – you better have the backing of senior management and the Board. I’m willing to bet Stangis’ team has that.

The reason why this report is so noteworthy is because it does what few reports do: explain what the company has done, will do, and most important, HOW it will do it.

Now let’s look at the report’s focus. For some reason, it’s rare that a company’s CSR mission can be communicated in such an easily understandable way: Campbell is going to “Nourish Consumers, Neighbors, Employees, and the Planet.”

Well…. duh. Why do so many other companies struggle with identifying what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it?

Keep it simple.

By boiling down the CSR mission of the company into four approachable areas, Campbell’s has made the esoteric subject of sustainability understandable to everyone. Moreover, these goals are brand-right because they emphasize the essence of Campbell’s business: food. And the word nourishment implies something that’s good for you.

Effective communication is the single most important tool and roadblock for a company to achieve its goals. The CSR team at Campbell’s just made their own job a lot easier.

The reason why this report is so noteworthy is because it does what few reports do: explain what the company has done, will do, and most important, HOW it will do it.

Now if only they could do something about making Pepperidge Farm Goldfish less addicting.


The author is the president of Do Well Do Good – a CSR & philanthropy consulting firm based in Chicago. (c) 2010.

One Comment leave one →
  1. @paolabrussels permalink
    May 5, 2010 3:12 pm

    Those are indeed very ambitious and impressive goals.

    Bravo Campbell !

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