No more Fashion Pollution for Zara

Zara commits to go toxic free by 2020 thanks to Greenpeace’s campaign.

Zara, the world’s largest clothing retailer was put under pressure by Greenpeace’s global Detox campaign, exposing the links between textile manufacturing facilities using toxic chemicals and water pollution. Greenpeace demanded Zara to eliminate releases of hazardous chemicals into the environment and its products. Everything started with a fashion show and conference in Beijing. Related images and comments began to appear on social networks within hours of the story breaking. By clicking on this page you can see who is commenting about the campaign on Twitter and Weibo in real time. This page brings together 7.1followers from around the world and it gives you an idea of how much did the campaign spread across the globe.

On Twitter : 43,800 mentions of Zara and the Detox campaign.

More than 300,000 people signed up to join the campaign to Detox Zara

Tens of thousands of people emailed and tweeted directly to the company for an ambitious Detox commitment.

More than 700 Greenpeace volunteers in 20 countries were out at Zara stores on Saturday. Check the following video to see what they did

 

One week after the start of the campaign, Zara and other seven brands from the Inditex group: Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home and Uterqüe, commited to Detox.

Zara says that by the end of 2020 at least 100 of its suppliers in the Global South will publicly report data about their releases of hazardous chemicals into the environment. The open data will be chemical-by-chemical, facility-by-facility and at least year-by-year. Zara now joins Nike, Adidas, Puma, H&M, M&S and Li-Ning who have also committed to Detox, but other top clothing companies, such as: Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Mango and Tommy Hilfiger, still need to respond to the urgency of the situation and Detox.

I wonder… how seriously is Zara’s reputation affected?

In March, when their annual report was released, Zara has reported annual profits of £1.6bn, up 11.% on the previous year. 

Until now, it was a world-wide recognized brand and was standing for fast and affordable fashion. It was a growing profitable company.

What does it stand for now? Toxic clothes? Or a brand that committed to be environmental friendly?

What do you think about Zara now?

Oana.

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CSR= PR tool?

It’s no news that CSR and PR are closely interrelated. In a company, every action must be supervised by PR in order to make sure that no conflicts or misunderstandings arise. On the other hand, CSR is all about environmental issues, respecting human rights at the workplace and ethical approaches.

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The main question that arises is: do companies use CSR as a PR tool? Critics would argue that CSR programmes are undertaken to distract the public from the core issues and that corporations use CSR as a tool for their commercial benefit, by building relationships.

From my perspective, the majority of companies do boost their credibility and image due to their CSR activity, but the core issue is whether they use it just to promote their brand and be seen as a trustworthy, responsible and environmental-friendly company, or they actually undertake CSR activities with a real feeling of contributing to the community.csr-corporate-social-responsibility-370x229

In 2010, Marks & Spencer was named the UK’s greenest supermarket by Ethical Consumer magazine, based on companies’ policies on ethical and environmental issues such as animal welfare, workers’ rights and sustainable sourcing. In this case, did M & S have any PR benefits? Of course, the news was all over the media and this “award” brought them a lot of extra credibility.

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Did their profits register a tremendous increase? As Diana was saying, people that care more about price that quality and can’t afford to shop from M & S won’t change their behaviour just because of this national recognition; but on the other hand, being named the UK’s greenest supermarket certainly brought M & S an advantage in comparison to its closest competitors: Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, etc.

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So, in my view, any CSR activity carries PR benefits, but I think it’s highly unethical of a company to undertake CSR approaches and activities, just for media coverage and building reputation. Any CSR campaign should be based on a real concern and care for ethical behaviour, environmental impact and respecting human rights.

Ruxandra

The deeper purpose of Lush’s animal testing campaign

Both live and deceased animals are used for commercial or scientific research or educational purposes in a wide range of industries. The idea if animal testing started around 1859, when Charles Darwin affirmed that animals could serve as models for humans in the study of biology and physiology. Since 1863, organised protests against vivisection started to be organized, at first in Florence, Italy. The Cruelty to Animals Act, allowing the use of anaesthetics during vivisection, was passed in England in 1876.

Animal testing peaked in the early 1980s, and has been in decline since, due to both increased public pressure to reduce the numbers of animals tested and the development of available alternatives. The testing of cosmetic products on animals was banned in Britain in 1998 and throughout Europe in 2004. England has the strictest animal welfare provisions regarding the use of animals for scientific purposes anywhere in the EU and is promoting  the use of alternatives.

24th April, 2012 – A demonstration about the atrocity of animal testing took place in London.  A deliberately shocking performance was presented in the shop window of Lush cosmetic store’s branch in Regent Street, to re-enact widely used tests. The campaign aimed at drawing attention to the pain and cruelty inflicted on animals during laboratory tests on cosmetics. Wearing just a flesh-coloured body stocking, Jaqueline was treated like an animal in a testing laboratory.

Image I am not going to explain the details of the demonstration or show other images than the one above, as are quire disturbing. Furthermore I do not want to talk about the campaign itself…but of its need and purpose.

Why do you thing Lush decided to run suck a shocking campaign in the UK where animal testing was banned 14 year ago ? Do you think this could be just a PR tool? Or is just an ethical position that the company stands for?

Oana.

Blabbing about what?

Public Relations (PR) is what I would define as ‘information flow management’, between an individual or an organisation and the public. PR attracts audience’s attention using topics of public interest and aiming to persuade the public, investors, partners, employees, customers, suppliers, employees, governments, NGOs and other stakeholders in order to maintain a certain reputation about an individual/company.

As PR is based on public communication, it has always had special ethical responsibilities and challenges. This is due to the incredible potential they have for abusing their positions. The power to influence society means that PR holds enormous responsibility to be ethical. But what does being ethical mean?

Ethical principles have been studied since the period of the Ancient Greece with Plato and Aristotle developing the concept of the ’Golden Man’; when the classical philosophy collided with messianic monotheism the idea of ethics moved towards a deontological approach. The decision of right and wrong is decided on a universal basis, the Bible’s Golden Rule, “Do onto others as you would have them to unto you”. A more modern deontological approach is presented by Kant and the ‘Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals’ based on the role of cause and effect. Another approach to ethics, presented by English philosophers John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham, is utilitarianism – ‘the greatest good for the greatest number’. In the 20th century attention has been focused also on other theories such as: Subjectivism, Contractarianism, Existentialism, Cultural Relativism.

As we can see, there are a lot of different beliefs of what ethics are and how an ethical person should behave. A lot of people would simply argue that somebody who is ethical would always tell the truth. But how can we define which one is the truth? Furthermore, the ‘truth’, ‘media’ and ‘public relations’ are not three words that are likely to see put side by side very often but as Newsom (2010) affirms: “The extent and veracity of this relationship depend very much on the point from which you view the unholy trinity”.

Ethics are about values and personal, organisational and social standards. However, contemporary society it has grown more diverse along a number of factors, including culture, ethnicity, economy and class. Due to this diversity, ethical issues arise from conflict between experiences, beliefs, expectations and values. The evaluation of what constitutes ethical practice is more and more difficult because different people have different philosophies.

This blog will explore matters of public interest, how ethics have been used in different case studies and what was the influence of Public Relation in the discussed issue.

More information about ethics and Public Relations in:

COOMBS, W. T. and S. J. HOLLADAY, 2007. It’s not just PR. Public relations in society. UK : Blackwell Publishing

NEWSOM, D., J. V. TURK and D. KRUCKEBERG, 2010. This is PR. The realities of public relations. 10th ed. USA : Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Oana.