WEDNESDAY 12 JUN 2019 10:37 AM


The Corporate Engagement Awards is taking place on 12 June. Publicis Sapient is shortlisted for the awards

It is our belief that businesses not only owe a responsibility to their direct stakeholders, but to the local and wider community in which they operate. That is why we feel that engaging with local charities is so important, and is a responsibility that should underpin any successful business.

It is important to remember that, close to the affluent office areas in London in which we work, there are thousands of people struggling to find work, unable to cope with rising rents and simply unable to make ends meet. As a company and as individuals, benefitting from the opportunities that London has given us, we need to have a collective conscience to give back to those occupying the same areas as us.

Publicis Sapient is all about facilitating change, and partnering for impact, and we decided to bring this same ethos to our charity and social enterprise partners, creating true value and using our skills for good. Formally based within the borough of Tower Hamlets our corporate social responsibility (CSR) department played an active role helping local charities for a number of years, and a prime example of that has been the Publicis Sapient Sending Machine.

As a long-time principal partner of the First Love Foundation (FLF), a Tower Hamlets-based charity that helps residents in crisis, Publicis Sapient was aware of the scale of the issue on its doorstep. According to FLF, Tower Hamlets is one of the most deprived boroughs in the country and local food banks are under increasing strain to provide for those in need. With demand rocketing at Christmas time, Publicis Sapient’s innovators and engineers put their heads together to find ways to increase donation volume and improve the efficiency of processing those donations.

By exploring the supply and distribution chain of charitable food projects, Publicis Sapient identified two key issues: food collection points are often placed beyond the checkout in shops and supermarkets, when customers have already completed their purchases. And the donations that food banks do receive don’t always match the products that are most needed at the time.

This led to the development of the ‘Sending Machine,’ through which food bank stock data is collected and relayed to the unit. The ‘Sending Machine’ then displays images of the products (food and non-food) most in need at any one time, and passers-by can quickly purchase and donate those items using contactless payment technology. Information on items purchased through the ‘Sending Machine’ are sent to an online retailer, for delivery to the food banks.

Publicis Sapient’s ‘Sending Machine’ idea plays a part in Publicis Groupe’s One Table initiative. In 2016, the advertising industry came together to agree a ‘Common Ground’ commitment to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Publicis Groupe went on to form the One Table initiative and mobilise Publicis Groupe’s network agencies globally to do what they do best as makers and storytellers to help end hunger.

Richard Bedford is business consultant and CSR co-lead in London for Publicis Sapient