Posts Tagged ‘CSR’

CVS Kicks The Habit and Sticks to Selling Good Heath

February 25, 2015

Health and wellness are good for the mind, body, and soul, but they are also increasingly good for business. For a retailer like CVS, where pharmacy services are at its core, you’d think this sentiment would resound throughout the company; but a couple of years ago, CVS and its Senior VP of Corporate Social Responsibility, Eileen Howard Boone, realized the brand needed to reevaluate one prominent product on its shelves: cigarettes.

With cigarettes raking in nearly $2 billion in sales, and constituting 2% of CVS’s sales (as of 2012), it’s hard to imagine eliminating this revenue stream in a low margin business. However, in October of 2014, the company rebranded its corporate name to CVS Health and became the first major U.S. drugstore to remove tobacco products from its 7,600 stores.  “The decision to stop selling cigarettes was one that came with a financial risk. Eliminating $2 billion in sales is not something that is done every day by a Fortune 12 publicly-traded company,” Ms. Howard Boone told Forbes. While publically committing to reduce near-term revenue is a tough sell for a public company, Howard Boone and CVS Health considered other serious numbers, like the approximately 430,000 deaths that are attributed to cigarette smoking annually.

For CVS Health, the business case was clear.  Providing health care services and promoting health as a core purpose would not be sustainable while selling a product that so directly competes with that aim. To Eileen Howard Boone, it’s all part of innovating and reinventing the business for the benefit of the customers. “Despite this loss in revenue, we were willing to take that risk, to ensure a positive impact on the long-term health of our customers, clients and colleagues and to advance the dialogue on public health,” she explained. It is important to note that while some cities like Boston and San Francisco ban the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies, the decision by CVS Health was completely voluntary. But many interested parties were already advocating for pharmacies to stop cigarette sales, beginning with the American Pharmacists Association in 2010. Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which focuses on public health, called CVS Health’s decision “a bold, precedent-setting move because it acknowledges that pharmacies have become healthcare settings,” and hopes it will serve as a model for other pharmacies to follow suit.

As Boone explained in a recent interview with Forbes, the company’s CSR strategy, appropriately dubbed “Prescription for a Better World,” is three-pronged: building healthier communities, protecting the planet, and creating economic opportunities. The decision to eliminate tobacco products is just the tip of the iceberg in building healthier communities. CVS has aligned themselves with community partners such as the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE a women’s support program to educate and promote awareness.  Like the many companies truly embracing the CSR spirit, CVS Health is ensuring its CSR initiatives go hand in hand with business strategy and key decisions that start at the top. “I’m very fortunate to have the example of our CEO, our board and our senior leadership team.  This year, they made a bold move that really showed me firsthand what it means to be a leader in the area of corporate responsibility.”

See Eileen Howard Boone speak at BRITE ’15 (March 2-3, NYC) and hear more about the the power of purpose and the strategic role of CSR as a business imperative.

BY JENNIE MILLER ’15

Driving Social Change in Lebanon

June 6, 2012

Here in the United States, we’re all too familiar with the concept of “road rage,” often finding ourselves lambasting other drivers for their blatant disregard for the rules and safety of the road, only to be met with expletives, hand gestures, and even indifference.

As we know, this problem isn’t unique to the U.S. But countries tackle these perils in various ways. Columbia Business School, with the support of the Center on Global Brand Leadership, recently published “Cheyef Halak: Driving Social Change in Lebanon,” a case study on how one country took on this challenge, but with a greater purpose in mind—to build an advocacy program inciting overarching social change.

In 2011, LBCI, a popular television network in Lebanon, with then Interior Prime Minister, Ziad Baroud, and Impact BBDO, created the award-winning Cheyef Halak campaign. Cheyef Halak integrates marketing and social media with sardonic messaging to address reckless driving in Beirut. But it isn’t solely about negligent drivers. Rather it used this topic as a launching pad to address a range of issues encompassing internal corruption and civic responsibility.

Described as a “civic movement based on citizen journalism,” Cheyef Halak is a platform on which Lebanese citizens photograph and report irresponsible and dangerous behaviors of individuals who consider themselves above the law. Pictures and videos of violators in action are posted on Cheyef Halak’s Facebook page and Twitter feed, creating what has been referred to as a “Wall of Shame.”

Cheyef Halak Facebook Page

The phrase itself means “Do you see yourself?” but is more commonly understood in sarcastic terms as “Are you proud of yourself?” Instead of taking a patronizing tone, however, the campaign incorporates commercials and outreach embodying a more satirical personality, using irony and humor to engage its audience.

Through traditional and emerging media, the campaign took off with measurable success. Within its first seven months, citizens captured over 2,300 road incidents and posted 100 videos. By the end of 2011, its Facebook page had attracted 27,000 “Likes” and its videos had garnered 68,000 views, now at more than 41,000 and 131,000, respectively. Not bad for a country with only 4.1 million people, about half the size of New York City’s population. It also won the 2011 Gemas Effie gold award for best use of corporate social responsibility, as well as several awards from MENA Cristal and Dubai Lynx.

Support for the cause has caught on with schools and other institutions. And in December 2011, the collected photos and videos were submitted to the current Interior Minister for potential use in policy initiatives.

LBCI and Impact BBDO must now consider challenges as they look towards the campaign’s future. The founders are taking into consideration long-term sustainable impact, keeping messaging fresh and inspiring, raising funds, and whether they can effectively broaden the effort to tackle other areas of political and social strife.

The team remains confident that its initiatives will continue to grow, and as Prof. Asim Ansari and his fellow case writers note, “[The campaign] had empowered everyday Lebanese to become change agents able to track, report, and capture violators when state agencies were unwilling to do so.”

“Cheyef Halak: Driving Social Change in Lebanon” was a collaborative effort written by Columbia Business School’s Prof. Asim Ansari, Prof. Kamel Jedidi, Ziad Naamani (MBA ’12), Prof. Scott Schriver, and Prof. Olivier Toubia.

To order copies of this case study, visit Columbia CaseWorks.

BY ALLIE ABODEELY

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