Corporate social responsibility or CSR is a buzzword. It generally translates into:
a) Companies supporting NGOs or social causes directly
b) Companies donating a small % of their sales to charity.
For example, P & G linking its brands to Shiksha - a campaign to educate the girl child. And Surf Excel 10/10 which asked customers to participate by buying packs and then sending an sms, with money again going towards childrens' education.
But the recent 'Jaago re' campaign where Tata Tea has joined hands with Janaagraha takes the whole idea of CSR much further.
This is the first time I have seen a brand completely integrating a social message into its ad campaign. Now Tata Tea had started using the Jaago re theme last year (see ad below), but usually these campaigns remain on screen.
It is not clear who (the company or the NGO) came up with the idea of converting this into an actual on-ground movement. But it is a rocking partnership.
You can see this is a genuine movement because it is painstakingly reaching out to young people, college by college. In the first week of December Jaago re held a drive to register voters in Abhinav and Sathaye College (both in Mumbai) . In the coming week they are visiting Mumbai's NSS college, among others.
Campaigns which are naam ke liye only would not even touch these rather unglamorous campuses! Of course you need not wait for anyone to come to your college or workplace, you can register on their website www.jaagore.com as over 70,000 people have done already.
You have to fill out a 2 page online registration form and then take this form to physically register at the regional election office. In future, the Jaago re team may be authorised to collect forms in bulk from institutions registered in their outreach programs.
I don't know if all these efforts will improve Tata Tea's market share in the short run... But it is a better use of precious money usually spent on ads which look at 'jaago re' literally: "Drink our tea and coffee and feel like the Energiser bunny!"
You gotta have faith, Tata Tea believes it will reap benefits - in the longer run. And so it is with our votes.
We can't lose faith in the idea that each one of us CAN make a difference.