By taking a clear stand on an important social issue, Call me is one of the few Danish examples of successful corporate activism. But is it just a marketing gimmick?
The campaign that created a social movement
The small low-cost mobile company Call me got known across Denmark when it launched its public awareness-raising “Tal Ordentligt” (Watch Your Mouth) campaign back in 2012.
It generated a nationwide debate about verbal abuse and aggressive tones in public discourse, and ultimately sparked a social movement in Danish schools, on TV, social media (see video).
It also led to an improved business: it doubled the customer base, increased customer loyalty, led to the highest PR value in the industry, decreased cost per acquisition and delivered a strong, hard-to-copy differentiator in an extremely price competitive market.
Read more about Call me’s campaign in “Put purpose before profit – and make money anyway“.
The internal change process
What many people don’t know is that the “Tal Ordentligt” campaign was the result of an internal change and employee engagement process, which was kickstarted by the then CEO, Hanne Lindblad.
By building the value of trust into every corner of the business, the company upgraded its culture and worldview amongst Call me’s employees. It also made a strategic shift from full focus on profit to dual focus on profit and purpose.
See the culture book that Call me’s employees created during their change journey.
Purpose drives activism – not business
By taking a clear stand on an important social issue, and actually kickstarting a movement around it, Call me is one of the few successful Danish examples of the emerging trend “corporate activism”.
But Hanne Lindblad warns other companies, who consider an “activist” market approach: “Corporate activism needs to be driven by a company’s purpose. If companies do this purely as a marketing exercise or to increase its sales performance, they will fail and it will ultimately backfire on their business.”
“It requires a journey into integrity and intention for companies that want to take this kind of responsible action. They need to work with their worldview and get everyone in the company to align with this new vision,” explains Hanne Lindblad, who has since left the company, which is owned by Telia, one of the largest Nordic tele companies.
More insights from Call me
Call me’s former CEO Hanne Lindblad and former Marketing Manager Anja Enggaard were key note speakers at the miniconference on “Corporate Social Activism” in the Social Business Club.
At the miniconference, they shared important insights and practical experience with the “do’s” and “don’ts” of corporate social activism and the impact it has on managers and employees.
At the event, these other key note speakers also shared how-to insights and inspiration:
- The international social business specialist who provides an overview of global trends and cases on corporate social activism (Tania Ellis, Special Advisor & Founder, The Social Business Company)
- The recent Sustainable Brands Index award winner and retail giant that applies choice editing and campaigning to inform and engage its consumers in sustainable consumption (Thomas Roland, CSR Manager, COOP Danmark)
- The world’s first ethical prison labour company that uses its business to take a stand on poverty and women’s rights (Veronica D’Souza, CEO & Founder, CARCEL)
The Social Business Club is an inspirational network forum for professionals from around the world with an interest in innovative and sustainable business practices that create value for society and the bottom line. Free sign-up at www.thesocialbusinessclub.com
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