There is a world famous ad with the simple message: “Save trees, trees save.” In Pakistan, it seems that both the public and the corporate sector are now taking the message to heart. This in itself is not a bad thing. Having experienced the deadly effects of the heatwave of 2015, when many lives were lost in Karachi, the need for more trees is dire.
CSR and pro-bono initiatives are nothing new and they do have their share of sceptics who see such activities as just a new way of improving their bottom line. So, perhaps brand and communication managers in Pakistan, having read about global trends whereby consumers prefer to buy from companies that stand for a cause, have opted to jump on the current bandwagon of tree planting. A less cynical view would be that many companies have realised the need to give back to society and given the ineptitude normally exhibited by our government institutions, they have decided to put their money and efforts into this much needed area.
Trees do not grow overnight; they require patience, care and attention. The real tragedy would be to discover by next year that these initiatives have petered out due to lack of nurturing and resolve, perhaps because these companies have moved on to the next ‘in’ thing.
The truth probably lies somewhere in between, and irrespective of their objectives, companies planting trees should be encouraged, provided they are taking the right steps to ensure that their efforts are sustainable and bear fruit (pun intended).
Trees do not grow overnight; they require patience, care and attention. The real tragedy would be to discover by next year that these initiatives have petered out due to lack of nurturing and resolve, perhaps because these companies have moved on to the next ‘in’ thing. The fact of the matter is that trees do not grow without a strong foundation and the same can be said about CSR campaigns. They need roots and they need care and attention to develop and have an impact. In June this year, a number of people on social media were talking about their plans to plant trees. People with knowledge of trees pointed out that the right time to do this was in July. CSR campaigns too sometimes fail because they get the timing wrong and their knowledge base is not in place.
So, do Pakistani companies have the right components in place to bring their CSR projects to fruition? Do they have the knowledge, focus and resolve to stay the course for several years if not decades? This is something only time will tell as we see how their CSR tree planting efforts grow.
Tyrone Tellis is a marketing professional working in Pakistan. firstname.lastname@example.org