This year, corporate social responsibility for Australian companies is now a must-have more than a nice-to-have strategy. During the raging bushfires in Australia, celebrities along with thousands of companies across the nation stepped up to donate a percentage of their profits and proceeds which allowed a total of $457 million to be raised, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Watching this happen was not only heart-warming, but it showed that companies can make a difference and can have a major impact towards social causes.
As a brand, how do you figure out what type of initiative to be involved in? How do you make sure your initiatives align with your brand? And most importantly, how do you ensure transparency on the program and its impact with your audiences?
We caught up with Justin, one of the Co-Founders of The Hidden Sea to chat about their giveback program, how they selected it and how others can implement an impactful social initiative.
On The Hidden Sea…
The Hidden Sea is a wine company that is on a mission to remove plastic from our oceans. Their vineyards, on the incredible Limestone Coast in South Australia, were once submerged by a vast ocean and home to a thriving marine ecosystem.
On Their Plastic Bottle Initiative…
The Hidden Sea has always been tied to the ocean. After spending a lot of time in the ocean, Co-Founders Justin and Richie noticed the plastic build up worsening over the years, particularly in the South East Asia regions.
And the stats confirm this. In their latest report, WWF shares ‘on average people could be ingesting around 5 grams of plastic every week, equal to a credit card worth of plastic that we are consuming every week. On average, we are consuming over 100,000 microplastics every year. That’s approximately 21 grams a month, just over 250 grams a year.’
This made it perfectly clear to Justin and Richie that their initiative program must help remove plastic from our oceans.
The Hidden Sea started their give-back program 5 years ago when they began donating a percentage of case sales. Then, they moved to a set dollar amount per case sales. Despite this, the Co-Founders were always determined to have a quantifiable and understandable message like, ‘By Drinking one bottle of The Hidden Sea we will remove the equivalent of 10 (500ml) plastic bottles from our Ocean and recycle them.’ We believed that stating anything else allows for greenwashing or disingenuous claims, no matter the original intent.
That’s why we partnered with The ReSea Project, so that they can be accountable to their ocean health claims.
ReSea is independently validated and verified by third party audits, Plastic Change, UN Global Compact and SOA. They are also working with DNV GL, who are independent auditors dedicated and impartial experts that are setting industry standards and best practices. The collaboration will produce the Global industry standard for the sustainable removal and cleanup of plastic from our oceans.
Working with ReSea has allowed The Hidden Sea to measure the impact they are making on our oceans.
On choosing a give back program…
There are two main things to keep in mind when choosing a giveback initiative for your brand; authenticity and passion.
‘I personally don’t get up every day to make an impact on the wine industry, I think I have a responsibility due to the fact I’m in the wine industry to make an impact on my environment. If I can do this via my brand and being a thought leader, raise awareness and have a direct impact on environmental issues especially around plastic in our oceans then this feels authentic and organic for me.
As my children get older and more mature and as they start to understand our business, I’m not interested in them reflecting on how much wine we have sold. I would much prefer to be talking to them about the difference we have all made by cleaning up the oceans through The Hidden Sea wine sales. Then I feel I’ve done my little bit to make a positive impact on the world for their generation.‘
Ultimately, The Hidden Sea believes that those who work in commerce have a responsibility to give back and fix the problems that have been created over many years in our natural world.
As always, you must ensure that you are doing it for the right reasons and not just to hop on the current eco-trend. Make sure that your initiative ties back to your brand story and who you are as people. It requires authenticity, transparency and again, a strong belief in what you are doing.
The Hidden Sea believes what they are doing is making a true difference in the world. They give consumers access to total transparency, as via a unique QR code they can see and track the difference they make with every bottle of the Hidden Sea they buy and consume.
The Hidden Sea have even boldly put to their tribe a goal of ridding the world’s oceans of 1 billion plastic bottles and recycling them by 2030.
Check out The Hidden Sea and read more on their story, and on their Plastic Bottle initiative.
If you want to learn more and get practical steps on how, as a brand, you can connect with your conscious audience to make a real social impact, you can download our eBook ‘THE BUSINESS OF GOOD BUSINESS‘ here.