1 Department of Business Communication, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University2 Department of Business Communication, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University
Purpose – This paper explores how the multimodal persuasive strategies of CSR communication related to Coca-Cola’s “5 by 20” succeed to highlight the company’s continuous commitment to gender empowerment and environmental protection. Launched in 2010, “5 by 20” is a program designed to empower 5 million female entrepreneurs throughout the company’s global business system by 2020. The program has recently received 2013 Catalyst Award for its accomplishments. According to the company’s homepage, hundreds of thousands of women around the world are building stronger businesses, families and communities due to the implementation of this program. The environmental concerns are embedded in their activities. Approach – Drawing on an interdisciplinary methodological framework related to CSR communication, multimodal discourse analysis, gender theory and environmental communication, the paper proposes a multimodal analysis model through which it is possible to map and explain the multimodal persuasive strategies employed by the company in their CSR communication. The paper is focused on the analysis of the video series that can be accessed at: http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/5by20. Based on a social semiotics perspective upon multimodal discourse analysis, the paper intends to determine what types of knowledge are communicated in the persuasive discourse and what kinds of legitimating and evaluative strategies are employed. The discursive construction of these types of knowledge is discussed in terms of actors, actions, space and time. Findings – The paper explains how the commitment for gender empowerment and environmental protection is communicated through a complex interplay of several semiotic modes. It claims that by exploring how these semiotic modes reinforce, complement or subvert each other, the CSR communicative strategies can be more thoroughly addressed. Research implications – By examining the semiotic modes’ interconnectivity and functional differentiation in CSR communication related to gender empowerment and environmental protection, this paper expands the existing research work as the usual textual focus is extended to a multimodal one. Shedding light on how the multimodal interplay contributes to communicate corporate commitment to gender empowerment and environmental protection, this model can also be employed in order to explore multimodally other areas of CSR communication.