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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Ethical Behavior in Marketing

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 3017 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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 The heart of an organization’s foundation is extremely vulnerable when it comes to not being able to form solid corporate social responsibilities (CSR) and ethical business practices, particularly in the marketing efforts. The social demands of organizations are constantly changing, but the responsible behavior that is expected from branding and marketing initiatives must always remain true to the mission. By using selected references, peer reviewed journals, and the textbook; this paper examines how CSR and ethical behavior can directly affect how products and services are marketed. The marketing strategies that are used can have a direct relation to an organization’s success or failure. From a marketing and branding perspective, a solid code of ethics and CSR foundation is extremely important for the overall well-being of an organization. By having a CSR and ethical concept that puts the social, economic, and environmental concerns in addition to human rights considerations into their marketing operations will have a huge impact on the organization as a whole. It will also enhance the brand’s opportunities to maintain a positive image in the face of consumers in the marketplace. It should be the ultimate goal for the face of an organization to be able to maximize its positive image and minimize if not eliminate the negative through solid CSR and ethics in the branding strategy. In order for an organizations brand to stay true to their vision, mission and values it must be portrayed in their marketing efforts.


 The concepts regarding Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) and business ethics often times go hand in hand, however they both have very prominent meanings when it comes to each concept separately. CSR in business refers to the obligation that the business has to boost its positive impact while doing everything in their power to minimize and even eliminate its negative impact on society as a whole. This means not only in the way they manage and run their business but also how they market their brand.

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 Ethically speaking, businesses have a duty to compete for customers and profits first and foremost ethically and legally. When competition is executed unfairly or illegally through socially unacceptable methods, extreme damage can be done to the organization’s ability to gain an advantage, the stakeholders, competitors and society. When a solid ethical foundation is in place it makes it easier for the marketing of the brand to exhume that same ethical image.

 An organization is made up of many departments which in turn creates a supply chain. The chain and the relationships among them whether moving upstream or downstream should most definitely be built on nothing short of trust. When an organization builds its foundation on deep values, morals and expectations of CSR and ethics, that trust becomes undeniable throughout the supply chain. With this solid foundation it is easier to build a strong business strategy that flows not only through the supply chain but more importantly into the face of marketing, where standards and expectations are easily exhumed in daily decision making.               It is extremely important for the supply chain to be on the same page when it comes to the ethics and CSR of the organization. When each department sees the importance in creating a positive brand and image the consumers and society are going to recognize this and therefore trust will have been accomplished.

 Marketing as the face of a brand and organization is a function of the economy which is spiderwebbed in any of the seven social institutions: family, church, school, economy, government, military and leisure (Bartels, 1967). As we live and function in a constantly evolving environment it is very important that marketing expectations remain known throughout the supply chain as they change and evolve along with society and its roles.


 As an organization it is important to be able to incorporate the strategic and value orientation of CSR into the marketing initiative. However, in order to do that successfully it also needs to be incorporated into the business strategy and overall organizational culture which should be a cornerstone of the organizations mission statement.

 An organization needs to take pride in building its business on a structurally sound CSR and ethical framework, and then use it to guide their marketing initiative. A solid and productive CSR and ethical foundation will not only help an organizations pursuit of profits, but it will also aid them in their marketing efforts that will be able to portray their values, mission and the fact that they take their economic responsibility seriously. If the culture of the organization reflects being a sound organizational citizen and that reflection matches the image of their branding it will create a long-term concern from the bottom up in the supply chain, of the importance of being socially and ethically responsible. An organization with a solid framework within the core of the everyday functions undeniably will also bleed into the functioning of the marketing strategy, and this can all be central to the organization’s overall success.   

 According to Stearns, Walton, Crespy & Bol (1996), marketing strategies will ultimately benefit from a framework that supports a training program, code of ethics, and a solid set of core values. Each component of an organization especially the marketing campaign is extremely important to being able to achieve the overall organizational goal. If the marketing strategy isn’t aligning with the rest of the organizational structure, success is going to be that much harder to gain. When the structure of the marketing strategy aligns with the needs of the organization, the results will be that of less conflict and greater efficiency and effectiveness.

 This is precisely what Johnson & Johnson’s Chairman and CEO William Weldon attributes to their company’s success. Johnson & Johnson over the last hundred and thirty plus years has been a huge success story of substantial growth. According to Crosby & Zlevor (2010), Johnson & Johnson employs over 110,000 employees in more than 250 operating locations in 57 countries which has made them the world’s premier company specializing in consumer health products. The Johnson & Johnson organization has a substantial global presence and because of that deep presence they have had to work harder at solidifying their strength by maintaining a strategic operating model, a solid credo foundation and a marketing avenue that values and believes in the structure of the organization, the people they hire, and the people and communities they serve. Mr. Weldon has attributed their success to having a deep focus on the values of their employees, stakeholders, and customers. The Credo of Johnson & Johnson is the philosophy they stand tall on and have for many decades. Their morals, values, and beliefs are what drives their business and their branding efforts. How an organization creates a lasting image of their product is how they can successfully gain loyalty to their brand. When the values and mission of an organization match that of their customers and communities where they do business, consumers are more obliged to turn to that product verses competitors when wanting to fulfill their needs and wants. Johnson & Johnson doesn’t have a mission statement or catchy slogan, instead everything they do revolves around their Credo. The Credo of Johnson & Johnson which can be found on their website and is explained by Fulmer in the article “Frameworks for Leadership” (2001) is as follows:

“We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses, to mother and fathers and all others who use our products and services. In meeting their needs everything we do must be of high quality. We must constantly strive to reduce our costs in order to maintain reasonable prices. Customers’ orders must be serviced promptly and accurately. Our suppliers and distributors must have an opportunity to make a fair profit.

We are responsible to our employees, the men and women who work with us throughout the world. Everyone must be considered as an individual. We must respect their dignity and recognize their merit. They must have a sense of security in their jobs. Compensation must be fair and adequate, and working conditions clean, orderly, and safe. We must be mindful of ways to help our employees fulfill their family responsibilities. Employees must feel free to make suggestions and complaints. There must be equal opportunity for employment, development, and advancement for those qualified. We must provide competent management, and their actions must be just and ethical.

We are responsible to the communities where we live and work and to the world community as well. We must be good citizens-support good works and charities and bear our fair share of taxes. We must encourage civic improvements and better health and education. We must maintain in good order the property we are privileged to use, protecting the environment and natural resources.

Our final responsibility is to our stockholders. Business must make a sound profit. We must experiment with new ideas. Research must be carried on, innovated programs developed, and mistakes paid for. New equipment must be purchase, new facilities provided, and new products launched. Reserves must be created for adverse times. When we operate according to these principles, the stockholders should realize a fair return.”













The areas highlighted above are what Johnson & Johnson as a family and organization pride themselves on each and every day. They are not afraid or too prideful to admit when a mistake has been made (and they have had their fair share of mistakes), when they need to improve, adapt or overcome obstacles. Their branding has always revolved around their Credo and what it stands for and is the face of their organization. Johnson & Johnson’s Credo is what drives them to be an organization of character, ethics, and values (Chattu, 2015). This also runs deep in how they market their products, and how they have been successful for always trying to do the right thing. Robert Wood Johnson the former Chairman of Johnson & Johnson explains, “that the organizations Credo is more than a moral compass, it’s the recipe for business success” (Fikry, 2004).


 Marketing planning is an essential process in which organizations establish a means of being able to provide value to its customers (Browne & Cuddihy, 2011). As Wintrob (2016) states, “The articulation of a purpose statement or belief system necessitates that a brand identifies what matters beyond its quest for bottom-line profits.” An organizations mission statement, Credo, and values help solidify what a brands purpose is and also assists in being able to earn the trust of their consumers.

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 An extensive marketing strategy that is built on purpose, beliefs, and structured through a brand pyramid can only be significant when it is being driven by the brand’s behavior (Wintrob, 2016). In other words, the organization is putting their mission into action by practicing what they preach. The following diagram offers a visual of the steps needed in order to grow a marketing planning strategy from an organization’s mission and values. This is where the organization can focus on being able to zone in on things like integrity, quality, fairness, respect, dignity, honesty, community, responsibility, protection, innovation and success.




SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)


Objectives & tactics




Target Market




 An organizations mission statement leads the organizational strategy and that in turn leads the marketing planning and implementation efforts. When the marketing pursuit aligns with and supports the organizations mission, it is going to open up opportunities to gain a positive image and have an effective CSR impact. From the above diagram it can be seen that the marketing planning process’s starting point is the mission statement. As times change and the business world continues to evolve, the strategies and objectives may also change but the mission statement and values should remain the same throughout. Take for example the beginning mission of Levi Strauss & Company explained by Ireland & Hitt (1992) in the article entitled “Mission Statements: Importance, Challenge, and Recommendations for Development” and are as follows:

“We seek profitable and responsible commercial success creating and selling jeans and casual clothing. We seek this while offering quality products and service-and by being a leader in what we do. What we do is important. How we do it is also important. Here’s how: By being honest. By being responsible citizens in communities where we operate and in society in general. By having a workplace that’s safe and productive, where people work together in teams, where they talk to each other openly, where they’re responsible for their actions, and where they can improve their skills.” 

 There are many organizations like Levi Strauss, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Hobby Lobby, Chick-fil-A among others that pride themselves on conducting business and marketing their brand by using words like those highlighted above. The American Marketing Association lays out an example of a “solid” code of ethics that promotes values like honesty (solid and genuine relationships between customers and stakeholders), accountability (being able to openly accept consequences of poor marketing decisions and strategies), accuracy (taking an interest in wanting to balance the buyers needs with the sellers interests), respect (having dignity for all that are associated with the organization), transparency (openness in all marketing activities), and citizenship (being able to successfully fulfill all economic philanthropic, legal and social responsibilities (Constantinescu, 2011)).

 The bottom line of an organizational and marketing mission goes beyond profit maximization and should be more about gaining and retaining trust among everyone involved with the organization both internally and externally.



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  • Crosby, C., & Zlevor, G. (2010). Johnson & Johnson’s transformational leadership program prepares quality leaders for global challenges. Global Business & Organizational excellence, 29(2).
  • Fikry W. Isaac. (2004). Employee health contributes to corporate financial health at Johnson & Johnson. Journal of Organizational Excellence, 24(1).
  • Fulmer, R. M. (2001). Johnson & Johnson: Frameworks for leadership. Organizational Dynamics, 29(3).
  • Ireland, D., & Hitt, M. (1992). Mission statements: Importance, challenge and recommendations for development. Business Horizons, 35(3).
  • Kirkpatrick, S. (2017). Understanding the Role of Vision, Mission, and Values in the HPT Model. Performance Improvement, 56(3).
  • Schweiz, J. (n.d.). Our Credo. Retrieved from http://www.jnj.ch/en/our-values/credo.html
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  • Wintrob, M. (2016). Brand building for the new millennium. Design Management Review, 27(2).


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