Babson Professor Natalie Taylor, Case Director
Dana Levy & Nathan Fox , Case Writers
Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship
© Babson College, 2006.
The Timberland Company is at a serious crossroads. They have a brand identity that no one knows about; that is, no one out side of the White House, industry experts, and readers of Fortune Magazine and Business Ethics Magazine. Despite having been one of the pioneers of corporate responsibility with regard to green and social practices, touting their own virtues had somehow seemed like a violation of the second of their four corporate precepts: Humanity, Humility, Integrity and Excellence. So while Timberland had always strived to be the global reference brand for socially accountable business, most consumers were unaware of this leadership ethic. As a result, Timberland was now playing catch up. The challenge was that by the late 1990s and early 2000s, the consumer marketplace had undergone a fundamental change. Doing well by doing good was a mantra so widely practiced and even flaunted across the globe, Timberland had to wonder how effective a green message would be at this point. If the company did decide to pursue a proactive strategy to let the world know about their strident commitment to high ideals, what might that effort look like? This then is the central issue in this case: Is it too late for Timberland to gain a market advantage by showcasing its long-standing green and socially progressive practices to a general public that now expects companies to act that way?
Key Words: Social and ethical practices, Green businesses, Ethics, Brand management, Identity marketing, Consumer marketing Corporate culture, Channel marketing, Volunteering
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