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Billboards and unconscionable capitalism

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is sometimes referred to as conscience capitalism because companies with a social conscience demonstrate sincere respect and concern for the society which gives them the franchise to operate. People everywhere are demanding accountability for the performance of organisations and governments. Doing what is right makes sense not only because it minimises reputational risk, but it also increases opportunities for organisational stability, growth and development. 


Many companies using billboard advertising would say they are socially responsible, meaning they are law-abiding, ethical, contribute economically, and give back to the community. Yet, those same companies often do not think twice about the effects of their indiscriminate actions on the physical environment, and the adverse, incremental impact on the well-being and sensibilities of the people who patronise them. 


They turn the notion of CSR on its head and relegate community outreach to nothing more than hypocrisy. Their generous charitable acts often mask delinquent behaviours. Such corporate hypocrisy extends to indiscriminate billboard advertising. 



Billboard advertising is no doubt an excellent vehicle for corporate and product branding. Done strategically, it creates awareness of companies and their products and consequently aids market penetration and consumer memorability. It is a valid marketing tool, so the argument here is not against that form of advertising, but rather its indiscriminate and unlawful use, and disrespect for citizens.