Sprout Social released a survey that concluded two-thirds of consumers say its important for brands to take a stand on social or political issues.
Edelman echoed that sentiment with a 2017 study that found 51% of respondents believe brands have more power to solve social issues than the government. And they reported that 57% of consumers are more likely to buy or boycott a brand because of its stand on social or political issues.
Taking a stand is increasingly part of marketing planning. And yet social stands that are only campaign-deep invariably come across as only campaign-deep. Last year’s Pepsi ad misfire with Kendall Jenner joining a social protest is a cautionary tale.
“A lot of brands jump on the bandwagon as a shortcut to weigh in on what’s going on and resonate with customers, and Pepsi did exactly that. But people have high BS detectors,” said Adam Kleinberg, CEO of Traction.
Last year, Patagonia changed its entire home page to a provocative banner reading “The President Stole Your Land” after an executive order reduced the size of two national monuments in Utah by two million acres. Patagonia is a belief-brand with a long history of taking a stand, and this particularly stand fit squarely in Patagonia’s turf. It wasn’t a one-off. That type of stand is not right for every brand.
I like how Max Lenderman, CEO of School, put it:
“Most brands have knee-jerk reactions to trends and seek to hijack them. But you can’t use cause or purpose as a tactic; otherwise you’re bound to fail.”
Here are a couple related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years:
“Mission Statement” January 2011
“Brand Laddering” June 2012