The Era of Corporate Citizenship: Perodua's Advertising with a Social Dimension
As a home-grown compact car maker in Malaysia, Perodua has integrated social messages into its corporate advertisements since 1999, seeking to enlighten the local audience about various social issues and values. With the growing concern of corporate social responsibility ("CSR") globally, company advertising with a social dimension ("CASD") seemed to be an effective way for Perodua to portray its good corporate citizen image. However, the impact of the ads on direct and tangible returns in the form of sales was hard to determine. Since 2005, trade liberalization in South-East Asia resulted in reduced government protection for Malaysia's indigenous automotive industry and there was more emphasis on corporate differentiation strategies. In response to the escalating competitiveness and the increasing interest in CSR, Perodua's corporate leaders and its management had to rethink how corporate advertisements emphasizing social aspects could sustain the company's profitability and reputation in the long run. Besides, controversies easily arose when social issues such as race-related topics were not handled with sensitivity, given the diverse cultural context of Malaysia. Set in the context of an industry characterized by intensifying competitiveness and in a multicultural environment in which the social impact of advertising is emphasized, Perodua's strategy of CASD becomes very interesting.