The purpose of the present research is first to assess the financial education’s effectiveness, examining how a specific communication regarding the use of money could help new consumers from low-income families avoid insolvency. The second is to analyse the impact of this corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity on a Brazilian bank’s image.
The research used a qualitative methodology based on in-depth interviews using three advertising films, which served as an enhanced element to prompt students to evaluate the discourse of sensible use of money and credit and the bank’s image.
The results showed that the students are very receptive to the ideas shown by the bank advertising films. Nevertheless, the interviewees showed a certain degree of suspicion toward the initiative and intentions of the bank. The perceived corporate image was clearly ambiguous, with the financial institution showing its advertising film about the careful use of money in complete contrast to actual bank branch practices in which employees offer and encourage young students from low-income families to get loans and credit cards. The bank became more socially responsible merely to cut costs and as a consequence did not improve its image.
For CSR in banks to be real and have a positive impact on society, the authors suggest that the bank enter into a cooperation or sponsorship agreement with the federal government or any public sector institution or non-governmental organizations. The form, the arguments and the language of the bank’s financial education campaign examined in this article seemed to be capable of serving social purposes or benefiting society.
Educating consumers in the conscious use of money reduces delinquency rates and increases banks’ profits while, at the same time, benefiting society economically. The bank’s positive experience in terms of financial education could help the Brazilian government and other institutions with the same purpose. The advertising campaign provides some insights for the Brazilian government financial education program to which it has given high priority (BCB, 2015).
The article expands studies on CSR in developing countries and of attitudes toward it in the emerging middle class, two issues that have received scant attention. The study reinforces Carroll and Shabana’s view (2010) that companies are becoming more socially responsible merely to cut costs and Porter and Kramer’s call that to be really strategic the action must not appear to be mitigating the very harm it has caused.
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