Corporate responsibility

It used to be that corporate responsibility had something to do with not lying about products or secretly dumping chemicals in a river. It's still that, but increasing consumer sophistication has led to a widening definition. Now it's not only about what we put into our environment, but what we put into our bodies. Being a responsible marketer means addressing concerns across a range of issues - and taking concrete, visible steps to make responsibility an everyday part of your corporate culture and public face. Burger King's Lisa Brenneman explains.

It used to be that corporate responsibility had something to do with not lying about products or secretly dumping chemicals in a river. It’s still that, but increasing consumer sophistication has led to a widening definition. Now it’s not only about what we put into our environment, but what we put into our bodies. Being a responsible marketer means addressing concerns across a range of issues – and taking concrete, visible steps to make responsibility an everyday part of your corporate culture and public face. Burger King’s Lisa Brenneman explains.

The statistics are alarming. Approximately one third of Canadians are overweight and as many as 15% are obese. Concerns about obesity, food safety, portion sizes and product ingredients have directed much public and media attention toward the restaurant industry. Yet according to figures compiled by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservice Association, Canadians eat less than 10% of their meals at restaurants. Clearly, we all need to do more.

[The QSR category is doing] a far better job today in offering choice. It’s now common to see salads, low-fat sandwiches and side salad and fruit substitutions for fries, as well as nutritional posters and brochures detailing what is in many of customers’ favourite menu selections.

Yet, the industry has to go beyond the menu if we are going to have a positive impact. As good corporate citizens, it is essential to engage customers outside our four walls. We must continue to focus on consumer education, awareness, and ways and means to not just change the menu, but change people’s attitudes, which in turn will change their decisions. Ideally, consumers will then carry this balance into their lifestyle and their homes.

Lisa Brenneman is national marketing manager at Burger King Restaurants of Canada.

Who’s getting it right?

Maple Leaf Foods. Don Tapscott, co-author of The Naked Corporation: How the Age of Transparency Will Revolutionize Business, says: ‘Maple Leaf Foods is building transparency and integrity into its entire supply chain, from farm gate to plate. They’re implementing a DNA tracking system to ensure that what happens to an animal as it moves through the supply chain is what they want. Then as a consumer you’ll be able to tell exactly what went into that piece of chicken. Customers crave candour and increasingly they won’t do business with you if they think you lack integrity.’