Social media is inextricably linked to corporate social responsibility and is creating a bigger transformation for businesses than the arrival of television, according Havas’ global chief executive David Jones.
In a candid interview on the back of the Starbucks tax furore, one of the world’s most influential ad men, and author of Who Cares Wins, was keen to stress how the likes of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were fundamentally changing the rules of engagement for businesses today.
The 46 year old behind Havas Worldwide (formerly Euro RSCG), Cake and MPG, has dubbed this decade “the age of damage”, an era in which businesses that are not socially responsible will suffer damage because of it.
Pointing to events in the last few weeks, he said: “You’ve had everything, from the Barclays head of the trading desk and his racist outburst against the Chinese builders; he went completely ballistic in a completely insulting and racist kind of way to Chinese workmen near to his home. And one of them, instead of getting down off the building site and smacking him in the head, filmed him, posted it on YouTube, four hours later he had no job.
“In America, you had both America Apparel and Gap who, through Hurricane Sandy, were sending messages saying – ‘if you’re stuck in doors it’s a great time to come and shop online’. I mean duh…
“Social media has empowered people to sanction leaders or businesses who do not behave the way they want them to… People can find out everything about a company today and they can create mass movements against that company.”
In the coming years, the global leader believes businesses that are the most socially responsible will be the most successful, and will reap huge benefits from the power of social media as employees, shareholders and consumers become passionate advocates for brands and businesses.
He said: “Social media has taken social responsibility out of the silo and has put it very firmly in the P&L statement…
“Transparency, authenticity and speed are the rules of social media but they are also the rules of running a modern business.”