Are you looking to attach your brand to a political or social cause? Many brands already have some allegiance to a cause, generally through “social good” initiatives or other philanthropic acts. However, some companies have taken the plunge into consumer-facing conversations around current social and political issues – and it’s working.
A 2017 survey by J. Walter Thompson found that 78% of consumers agree that companies should address important social issues. These findings can be attributed to changing American values that have people more engaged in political conversations than ever before. But engaging in relevant, sometimes controversial, conversations can be volatile for businesses, and marketers must establish an honest and authentic voice to persuade consumers in the marketplace and make a difference.
What brands are finding success with political and social engagement? In 2017, make-up giant CoverGirl abandoned traditional gender norms and showcased makeup artist and YouTube sensation James Charles, the companies first male spokesperson.
Stella Artois’s “Buy a Lady a Drink” campaign encouraged consumers to get involved in the global water crisis by selling limited edition bottles that, in turn, would provide a month of clean water to women and their families in developing countries.
While the aforementioned campaigns are wildly different, it highlights the big swings major corporations are willing to take to gain home run engagement with consumers and join the massive cultural shift of engaging in socio-political conversations. However, it would be irresponsible not to acknowledge the risk brands take as they walk into the crossfire of controversy. There will always be the threat of potential backlash from people who disagree with a cause.
Regardless, many brands aren’t letting the fear of alienating a few customers discourage them from taking a principled stance and making a long-term difference, especially if the social stance they are taking works closely with their overall brand ethos.
If your brand is avoiding taking a stand on social issues or the current news cycle, you may be missing a prime opportunity. Assess your company’s goals and determine if joining the conversation is right for you. Then get to it, take a principled stance and make a difference!