Oilcorp's Marketing Campaign: Mixed Reactions to a CSR Initiative
In January 2010, the head of the Colombian Red Cross approached Oilcorp, owner of the largest regional chain of service stations in the country, requesting its participation in its 100th anniversary celebration with a brand awareness campaign for its social programs. Given that the annual budget had already been approved without this campaign in mind, Oilcorp's CEO assigned the task of raising money to the marketing department. Nevertheless, the campaign backfired when Oilcorp tried to link the social message with selling more gasoline and asking customers to provide their details through its corporate website, to be added to Oilcorp's database. Carlos Cardona-a member of the marketing team at Oilcorp-was worried about the mixed reactions he was receiving. The team merely wanted to be practical, and this seemed the easiest way. However, people close to Carlos thought otherwise. For many, it seemed that the company was taking advantage of a social cause for marketing purposes. They disliked the way in which it was hiding selfish intentions behind helping those most in need. Nor did they understand why Oilcorp asked for personal information on a website in exchange for a donation that the company should give on its own initiative. In addition, Oilcorp's CEO told media the company expected to raise US$50,000 from the campaign, but Carlos was worried about achieving the target when he noticed that just 1,200 users had provided their data via the campaign's website. Because of the regular pattern of gas consumption, it was improbable that customers would buy more gasoline from Oilcorp's service stations through the influence of a social initiative. Consequently, the results of the campaign could be as much as 30% below the Colombian Red Cross's expectations and the promises made by Oilcorp's CEO in the media. Carlos and the marketing team needed to decide what actions to take given that the campaign was not on track to meet expectations.