FROM THE EDITOR: CSR seems to be out of fashion

An interesting week in the reputation of the rag trade; from haute couture right down to the prince of the discounters.

Danny Rogers, Editor, <em>PRWeek</em>
Danny Rogers, Editor, PRWeek

First it emerges that top fashion retailers including Paul Smith and Giorgio Armani have been banning journalists that have criticised them from their shows. Then it transpires that the discount phenomenon Primark has been selling some clothes that were made by children.

The first example just seems plain childish, if you'll excuse the metaphor. Surely eminent brands such as these can cope with criticism. It is also, of course, an incredibly short-term strategy, which cannot enhance the brands long-term in the eyes of key stakeholders. Thankfully, leading UK fashion PR agencies such as Modus Publicity and Luchford APM have gone on the record in these pages condemning the practice.

But the Primark case is more complex and challenging. The AB Foods-owned company has come from nowhere to be one of the leading retailers on the high street. And it has done so by offering staggeringly cheap clothes.

Bearing in mind the 'build 'em up, knock 'em down' nature of the British media one could have seen this one coming. So it is surprising that AB Foods had so little CSR/crisis management preparation in place.

Primark's response to the BBC's expose of some of its suppliers' unethical behaviour ranged from knee-jerk to surprisingly advanced as the story developed.

Its initial reaction to simply ditch the offending suppliers only led to further criticism from NGOs, who rightly argued 'corporate responsibility' did not end there.

Later, with a PR agency's help, Primark developed a more sophisticated response, using online media, which answered many of the media's questions.

But the story will be sending a chill through many other corporations, because it shows the level of scrutiny now applied to all levels of an organisation's operations.

CSR is no longer an add-on PR technique; it is a crucial strand in corporate culture. Indeed, it is an organisation's licence to keep operating.

Email: danny.rogers@haymarket.com

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

Max Clifford trial jury finishes sixth day of deliberations

Max Clifford trial jury finishes sixth day of deliberations

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford on 11 charges of indecent assault has been sent home and will reconvene tomorrow morning for a seventh day of deliberations.

Analysis: Fishburn chiefs keep eyes on future despite mounting departures

Analysis: Fishburn chiefs keep eyes on future despite mounting departures

Fishburn's management have defended their reinvention of the 23-year-old agency amid industry mutterings, fed by a series of director-level departures, about the direction in which it is going.

Hit or Miss? EasyJet backs Shakespeare Day campaign with world record attempt

Hit or Miss? EasyJet backs Shakespeare Day campaign with world record attempt

EasyJet aimed to break the world record for the highest ever theatrical performance for Shakespeare's 450th birthday yesterday with the Reduced Shakespeare Company performing on a flight from Gatwick to Verona.

Top PRs to gather in Barcelona for inaugural PRWeek Global Congress

Top PRs to gather in Barcelona for inaugural PRWeek Global Congress

Senior executives from IBM, Nestlé, Vedanta, GE, Cargill, Philips and Allianz will be among the speakers at PRWeek's first Global Congress.