In the past several years, the advertising industry has undergone dramatic changes that have created an array of challenges and opportunities:

  • The use of “big data” to target consumers has raised government and consumer concerns about the collection and use of personal information.
  • The rise of “native advertising,” in which ads appear as content, has triggered questions about whether consumers are being misled.
  • Digital advances have given brands direct connections to their consumers, with the power to gain insights and build loyalty.
  • New advertising approaches appealing to consumers’ core values have given brands an opportunity to engage consumers on a deeper level.
  • Advertisers using their creative power to share messages related to social, environmental, and cultural issues have built strong brands and are having a positive influence on the world around us.

In context of these developments BSR and Participant Media embarked on research to explore how the major trends in advertising intersect with ideas related to corporate social responsibility.

Our conclusion is that there can be a powerful relationship between corporate responsibility and effective advertising. This paper outlines three opportunities for advertisers to embrace corporate responsibility and secure business benefits by enhancing transparency, empowering audiences, and taking a purpose-based approach.