Constructing a corporate social responsibility reputation using corporate image advertising
In the wake of recent major business collapses, and as a result of growing stakeholder expectations that firms make a contribution to society beyond economic benefits, such as products and profits, business is increasingly engaging in non-economic activities to meet these expectations. These non-economic programs include social and environmental initiatives, and demonstrate a firm’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR). Corporate image advertising is increasingly being used to create the awareness of a firm’s CSR initiatives, and, in turn, preference for its products and brands. CSR-based corporate image advertising, however, is problematic. We discuss this marketing communication technique, and propose a research agenda to investigate the ability of two message variables, social topic information and social impact claim specificity, to influence the earliest stage of attitudinal development, cognitive responses. We focus, in particular, on the potentially corrosive cognitive response of scepticism, and suggest that these message variables are possibly able to inhibit the development of consumer scepticism and build a positive reputation.