Cone Survey: Firms Should Take Global View

NEW YORK Americans increasingly want corporations to focus their charity efforts on international causes rather than local ones, per a new consumer survey from Omnicom Group public relations shops Cone.

The poll, revealed last week, should bolster the resolve of brands mulling whether to get involved in the tsunami relief effort now underway in South Asia. The survey was taken two months prior to the Dec. 26 tidal wave that swept Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India, killing more than 140,000.

Among the marketers who have already pledged aid to the disease-threatened areas: Pfizer, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Exxon-Mobil, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Labs, GlaxoSmithKline, Procter & Gamble and Altria.

According to the 2004 “Cone Corporate Citizenship Study,” the percentage of Americans who want corporations to “improve the quality of life” globally rose from 9 percent in 1997 to 22 percent in 2004. By comparison, those who want corporations to do the same nationally stayed level at 26 percent. Fifty percent of Americans believe those efforts should be local, down from 59 percent in 1997.

Corporations “will be criticized if they do not participate in some way,” said Carol Cone, CEO of Cone in Boston, which sponsored the survey, referring to the tsunami relief. She said media outlets have already started to develop lists of firms that have, or have not, given.