Jos Van Haastrecht from DSM talks to Ethical Corporation's managing director, Liam Dowd, about its winning campaign, 'Science Can Change the World'

Which Responsible Business Award did you win?

The Best Communications Award

Please tell us more about your winning project?

DSM is a global life and materials sciences company that wanted to show the world its dedication to science with a positive impact on society.

With their story telling campaign ‘Science Can Change the World’ and the hashtag #brightscience DSM wanted to show their dedication to science with a positive impact on society. To do so the company portrayed the lives and struggles of scientists (unconnected to DSM), who’s work could change the world for the better. The innovative campaign, featuring 'Unsung heroes of science' has generated huge engagement globally.

DSM reached out not only to the science community, but also governments, NGOs, customers and peers to participate in the conversation about the vital role of science in solving society’s challenges including malnutrition, climate change and disease.

To date the film has been viewed >5 million times; Overall online sentiment related to #brightscience is 100% favourable and total engagements on DSM owned channels amounted to >33k. DSM's share of voice on 'science and society' compared to its seven key competitors grew from 18% in early May to 45% in 2015.

What does this award mean to you?

The award offered great recognition for our work both externally and internally. Sustainability is DSM’s core value and this campaign is one of the proof points which underpins this. It also showed recognition for our unique and creative global communications approach.

What lessons would you pass on to others?

If you want your brand to shine do not talk about yourselves nor about your own achievements, but build engaging stories around a higher purpose which reflects your company’s beliefs and which resonates with multiple stakeholder groups. As a result, your brand will achieve higher esteem and relevance, albeit indirectly.

Jos Van Haastrecht

Now that you have been recognised for this leading strategy, what’s next for you and your team?

We wanted to build further on our campaign by highlighting that science can change the world for the better by turning it into a movement. In order to achieve this we established a three step approach. First, we said that in order to continue our movement we had to focus on a specific theme and we chose renewable energy. Secondly, we established a global competition to select and applaud scientific solutions in renewables with the intention to scale-up the best solutions. Thirdly, realizing that we are only one player in the field, we identified and partnered up with a broad base of companies and organizations which share the same belief that renewable energy can change the world. And finally, we started broad discussions and conversations with NGOs, governments, businesses and the general public on the relevance of renewable energy and the need for a step change.

At this year’s responsible Business Summit you’re talking about the need to go beyond collaboration to coalitions – what does this mean for DSM?

DSM believes in the positive role of business in society. We are an advocate on urgent themes like climate change and malnutrition and we work together with like-minded peers, NGOs, governments and other stakeholders to create change for the better. We also realize that in order to be truly impactful we increasingly need to go beyond collaboration to forming true coalitions, of like-minded organizations and businesses which not only share the same goals and objectives, but also the commitment to achieve the end results. 

And finally, would you recommend entering the Ethical Corporation’s Responsible Business Awards to your peers? If so, why?

I would definitely recommend the Ethical Corporation’s Responsible Business Awards to our peers since it is a highly recognized, independent award with a highly acclaimed and very professional judging panel.


This interview is part of the knowledge exchange in the build up the 8th Annual Responsible Business Awards 2017. The Awards a globally renowned as the leading awards recognising true leadership in responsible and sustainable business. Click here to learn more


DSM  Responsible Business Awards  #brightscience 

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