Twenty for 2020 – #2 – Bell Canada Enterprises

David MacNeil
February 11, 2020

Bell Canada Enterprises is the largest communications company in Canada which delivers a variety of service innovations to consumers, business, and government across the country. Bell Media operates some of Canada’s top media brands and is a leading investor in Canadian content production including local news, radio, entertainment and film. 

Today, we are continuing our Twenty for 2020 blog series outlining each of the 20 companies listed on Orenda’s Purpose-Driven Decade report, and how they manage their public brand reputation and social positioning, this time discussing Bell Canada.  

 

BCE: 

Recognized as a national leader in communications, BCE provides services in wireless internet, a growing mobile network, business and government communications, and is among the top media providers in Canada. The company continues to innovate every year with the goal of improving the quality and reach of its network to consumers.  

Bell’s operations are broad and is among the most influential companies in the country as its content reaches an immense audience every day. Consequently, the company is constantly under the microscope and must be diligent in its efforts to maintain brand positivity.  Bell’s social media presence reflects this, as they have specific accounts for media and public relations, customer service, and corporate activities.  

BCE is closely connected to what is happening in Canada, as they are a sponsor of major events, creators of popular content, and facilitate communication between individuals and what is happening in the world. In addition, BCE is often a popular investment topic on social media. It is consistently being evaluated and talked about by all levels of traders, with many being clear on their positions.  

 

The #BellLetsTalk Campaign: 

Bell has become a leader in opening the discussion about mental health online. The company is responsible for pioneering the #BellLetsTalk campaign, which is among the most popular hashtags in Canada. The hashtag encourages social media users to open up and share their experiences in an attempt to end the stigma surrounding mental health. In addition to opening up the discussion, Bell contributes monetary donations to health programs across the country for each time the hashtag is used, and for each text message sent from a Bell wireless customer during one day of the year, which they label “Bell Lets Talk Day”. Since the inception of Bell Lets Talk Day, BCE has raised $108,415,135. 

However, the 2020 Bell Let’s Talk campaign was met with some backlash as a story came to light about Bell’s involvement in overpricing and profiting from phone calls made by inmates in Ontario jails. It’s been suggested that in many cases these inmates have not yet been convicted of any crimes and are kept in isolation. Reports have stated that phone calls can cost as much as $30 for a 20-minute call, and some inmates have accumulated monthly bills that cost them or their families thousands of dollars. The public has displayed their dissatisfaction on social media by labelling the company as hypocritical, saying that these inmates are often suffering from mental illness themselves as a result of isolation from friends and family, and that Bell should not be finding a way to turn a profit from inmates who are trying to speak with loved ones or legal counsel.

It is clear that the #BellLetsTalk campaign has had both positive and negative effects for Bell this year, but how did this impact their social positioning? Using data tracked and analyzed by Orenda, we can determine how Bell performed in all eight of our social positioning categories on the day of the campaign (January 29th, 2020). 

As displayed below, BCE had an overall social positioning score of 61.375 on Jan 29th, which continued to drop in the coming days as the story continued to drag out. 

 

Social Positioning Graph - BCE

Social Positioning Scores for Bell on January 29 (Average score: 61)
Category 
Score
Above/Below Average
General 52 -9
Commitment 53 -8
Exchange of Benefits 54 -7
Trust 58 -3
Satisfaction 58 -3
Social Responsibility  65 +4
Influence 67 +6
Character 84 +13

 

While the company may have taken a hit in five of the eight categories, the most significant change that we notice is a large boost in Bell’s character score. This indicates that the campaign did indeed receive positive feedback as it has in the past for its obvious good deeds. However, this alone does not overshadow the noticeable decreases that Bell witnessed in other categories. It will certainly be interesting to see how Bell decides to address the aforementioned stories regarding phone prices in Ontario jails, as many are calling for change. Should they fail to do so, we may see similar negative results during next year’s Bell Let’s Talk campaign.