Third, companies are expected to have a formal code of ethics or policy, it is not enough to be ethical when communicating, besides an integrated marketing communication approach an integrated corporate communication must be developed.
Since we are now living in the “ethics era” as Smith (1995) argues, whereby consumers’ expectations have changed, and their awareness increase about how marketing communications affect them has led for the demand of more conscious and ethical behaviors by companies, integrated communications should not only be developed at the brand level but also at the corporate level (Carrigan, Marinova and Szmigin, 2005, p. 485). Authors like Powell (2011) mention that ensuring the corporate social responsibility, corporate marketing, and corporate identity are an integral part of senior managerial agendas that has become one of the major duties nowadays. In order for companies to be truly ethical, they should create a corporate identity that supports it, many of them have done it through CSR which is defined as “management of stakeholder concern for responsible and irresponsible acts related to environmental, ethical and social phenomena in a way that creates corporate benefit” (Vaaland et al., 2008, p. 931), and can help companies to display a more congruent and coherent identity that consequently will lead to enduring and substantial relationships with stakeholders. Likewise, some scholars add that to implement a corporate social responsibility policy and build a strong ethical identity, everything should start with the internal employees and the organizational culture; it is highly important to invest in employees because they are considered a great contributor to the businesses’ strategic direction, they are the ambassadors of the company , the image of it, and their satisfaction affects their productivity, thus they should feel identified with the organization’s principles and policies (Rodrigo and Arenas, 2008).
To illustrate let´s look at TOMS company, it was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie and aims to improve children’s hygiene and living conditions in developing countries through its “One for One” model; for each pair of shoes sold the company gives a pair of shoes to these kids. Regarding the advertisement, it is mainly conducted by word of mouth and the company host several annual events to create awareness of the issues caused by lack of proper footwear, meaning that TOMS communications focus on the social problems and do not promote the brand directly. Furthermore, related to the CSR discussed above, the company has been able to create a strong organizational culture that facilitates its ethical philosophy, employees are passionate and dedicated about the work, they are motivated to make an impact on the world (Hollensen,2011). The interesting about this example is that it shows how TOMS has managed to integrate ethical marketing into all the organization, first; from the consumer perspective TOMS address consumers’ concerns about social responsibility, it uses a hedonic experientialism approach in which consumers do not buy the product for what it provides but for what it means, they feel connected to something that matters, second; regarding TOMS’ marketing communication, the company displays its social concern and ethical practices in every aspect of its branding, it reinforces the company’s brand values consistently across all channels and let consumers know the kind of company they are dealing with, third; what the company communicates is aligned and is reflected internally through its organizational culture. Finally, despite the criticism toward the company in attracting publicity at the expense of poor children, TOMS is one of the few companies which had achieved real, measurable social impact.
Along with the new consumers’ demand and concerns, legislation has played an important part in setting up parameters under which companies must operate, the increasing trend of fair trade might be an example of it, we can also find anti-deceptive marketing laws, false advertising regulations, the Children’s Privacy Protection Act, antitrust laws, etc. To better illustrate how companies are reacting to this trend let’s look at one of the last ads made by Nespresso; ‘the choices we make’ campaign launched this year shows a shift away from the brand´s usual path of premium exclusivity endorses by George Clooney, toward a sustainable and social focus, using storytelling as the communication technique- which makes content exiting and pedagogical-, Nespresso highlights its investment and commitment to the local community where coffee is produced. In addition, Nespresso has its own label, the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality programme; which aims to support local farmers to create sustainable coffee practices that will increase the quality of the product, finally, the company has also launched a recycling program in 2016 to reduce the environmental impact its pods have on the planet (Nestlé Nespresso S.A., 2017)1.