Social impact is no longer an option for big brands


According to Javier Rodriguez Merino, Global Marketing Sustainability Director of Coca-Cola,

"Considering social impact is no longer an option for big brands, it's a necessity... We cannot treat branding and social impact as separate anymore."

When I visited Cliff Southcombe's office in Robin Hood's Bay a few weeks ago he answered the phone to one of those 'state of social enterprise' surveys.  When the researcher asked him what his social mission was, he replied,

"The defeat of capitalism!"

But does Coca-Cola's new thinking mean that social enterprise has already won this battle?

In one way I think it does.  Of course the world is still full of business models based on greed and exploitation, and the very idea of an economy based on making and transporting and using more and more things still immensely destructive; but the essence of capitalism is perhaps precisely it's ability to change, and to quickly incorporate - and market! - new social forces.

Left revolutionaries in Western Europe never saw the comprehensive defeat of capitalism they originally hoped for - yet many of their subsidiary hopes (for decent homes, affordable health care, greater social equality, a living wage) have in fact been fulfilled, at least for some.

Now big business seems to be adopting more and more social enterprise standards too.  We are getting incorporated into capitalism.  Good or bad?  And for whom?