A Millennial’s View On What Works (& What Doesn’t) In Brand Activism

A Millennial’s View On What Works (& What Doesn’t) In Brand Activism
SHARE
THIS



In this guest post, PHD strategist and Gen Y-er, Remi Baker (pictured below), says she’s a big fan of brands who get this whole brand activism thing right…

Our trust in companies, politics and advertising is at the lowest it’s been in 20 years.

It’s therefore no surprise that we are looking to brands to have a point of view, especially when it comes to cultural, social and political issues that are important to us.

Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 4.21.43 pm

Our distrust in politics has been fuelled by a string of global events: First Brexit, then the US election and the more recent UK election. These events have brought important topics like immigration, equality and globalisation to the forefront of our agendas and have triggered a reaction, especially amongst millennials like myself. They reignited our passion to stand up for what we believe in, and with it came a feeling of responsibility; a growing realisation that it’s now up to us to influence change.

Which in turn, altered what we expect from brands. We no longer want them to simply sell us something, we want our brands to stand for something.

And don’t the big brands know it.

You just need to look back to the Super Bowl earlier this year, which was a show reel of brands trying to save the world.

They make it easy for us. I mean, what better way to feel like we’re making a difference than without actually having to venture away from the comfort of our day to day: buying a latte from a barista whose coffee supports refugees, investing with a bank dedicated to driving marriage equality and driving a car that supports gender equality. It requires minimum effort, but still makes us feel like we’re doing our bit. Like our purchases are helping save the world, even if it is just one frothy coffee at a time.

There’s been a lot of negativity around brand activism recently: Is it right? Are brands simply jumping on the bandwagon? It’s brought debate and divided opinion. Do brands have a right to play in this space? As a Millennial, I think they have a responsibility to… providing they play by the rules.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying every brand should be mindlessly badging their name onto a cause. That’s exactly the problem. There needs to be a clear, meaningful and authentic connection between the brand and issue. If there isn’t, we’re not buying it.

So just how can brands foster authentic activism to help connect with this notoriously sceptical audience? Below are a few guiding principles:

  1. Build around a single-minded brand purpose – The best brand activists have a clear and unwavering brand purpose that runs through everything they do. Their activism is a natural extension of their existing positioning and they are single minded in their approach. It’s therefore important that your brand chooses its cause wisely and focuses on only one. Brands who try to do too much end up undermining and diluting their message.
  1. Policy not politics – Don’t focus on a political stance or going up against a party or leader as that means venturing into very dangerous territory. Instead focus on a policy or issue that is important and relevant to your brand and your audience. The key word here is ‘relevant’. Tiger beer recently launched their ‘Clean Air Gallery’ campaign, partnering with Air-Ink to help transform harmful pollution into harmless ink. Whilst a nice idea, without an intrinsic link between the brand and cause, it seems a little meaningless.
  1. Practice what you preach – Make sure your brand aligns its external and internal values. Trust me, if they don’t, we will find out and it will bring everything you say into question. A good example of a brand who practises what they preach is US clothing brand Patagonia, who are committed to social and environmental conservation. Not only do they spread a message promoting conservation, but they live by the premise, with their clothing made from almost 100% recycled materials.
  1. Demonstrate your commitment – Go beyond traditional marketing, from rallying governments to leading petitions, put what you say into action. Take Air B&B as an example who are a global brand that believe in equality. How do I know that? Not just because they tell me they do in their ads, but because their actions show me that they do. From their ‘Ode to Acceptance’ Super bowl ad, to their commitment to providing free accommodation to 100,000 refugees.
  1. Stick to your guns – Every cause has two sides and when you champion a POV, there are always going to be haters. How you manage those with opposing viewpoints will say an awful lot about your brand and a brand that sticks to their guns will earn greater respect. When Holden partnered with Mardis Gras earlier this year, the biggest star to come out of the campaign was their social media team. Whilst the brand received a torrent of negative comments across their social channels, the responses from Holden remained positive and true to their cause.

Brands need to fight harder than ever to get our attention and having a point of view can be a point of difference for a brand. Yes, there’s risk involved, and the few brands that have dared tread into this territory have seen a mixed response. But those who live up to their promise and truly believe in what they say, have seen the benefits and earnt respect amongst millennials.

So, I guess it comes down to one question: who will be brave enough to take a stand?

Latest News

THIS
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Meet Your Judges For The 2018 B&T Awards!

B&T is calling this year's awards judges probably the finest ever assembled. As a chamber choir, arguably less so.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
CBS Snares Format Rights For Quiz Show ‘Have You Been Paying Attention?’
  • Media

CBS Snares Format Rights For Quiz Show ‘Have You Been Paying Attention?’

CBS Studios International has announced an agreement with Working Dog Productions for the exclusive, worldwide format rights to comedy quiz show Have You Been Paying Attention? Now in its sixth season, HYBPA? is broadcast on the CBS-owned Network Ten in Australia, and is the number one quiz show and the third-highest-rated overall show on the […]

Delacon Appoints Kenshoo Sales Chief As Director Of Operations
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Delacon Appoints Kenshoo Sales Chief As Director Of Operations

Call analytics provider Delacon has appointed Ezri Lerba to the newly created position of director of operations to manage partnerships and business development. Lerba joins Delacon after more than eight years with marketing technology company Kenshoo where he most recently held the role of director of sales across Australia and New Zealand. As first boots […]

Abstract spherical technology network background.
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media
  • Opinion
  • Technology

Why Tech Is The Best Thing That Happened To Agencies

In this opinion piece, Schedugram CEO Hugh Stephens (pictured) tackles the complexity of agency business models. Agency models are high touch, human resource heavy and require the constant balancing and correcting of clients to account managers. With too many clients, staff will struggle under the workload (a big part of high agency attrition rates) or […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Weet-Bix Celebrates 90 Years Of Aussie Kids Being Weet-Bix Kids
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Media

Weet-Bix Celebrates 90 Years Of Aussie Kids Being Weet-Bix Kids

This year Sanitarium Weet-Bix via The Mix Agency, Shopitize and The Kanga Group, is celebrating 90 years of Australian breakfasts. Sanitarium is celebrating by inviting Aussie kids (young and young-at-heart) to help them celebrate with the release of limited edition birthday packs and personalised Weet-Bix bowls. From Kalgoorlie to Kiama, Bowen to Broome and Darwin […]

Admation Agency Management Software Integrates With Mediaocean Finance Software
  • Media
  • Technology

Admation Agency Management Software Integrates With Mediaocean Finance Software

Automaton integrates finance software with admation – its agency management and workflow solution to enhance productivity for ad agencies. Automaton is always evolving admation, its agency project management and approval workflow software, to enable ad agencies to better manage their creative projects and resources. The business recently completed phase one of its integration with Mediaocean’s […]

Indie Agency KWP! Snares Tourism NT’s Creative Account
  • Advertising

Indie Agency KWP! Snares Tourism NT’s Creative Account

Tourism NT has appointed KWP! as its lead strategic and creative agency. The independent agency, with offices in Darwin and Adelaide, has won the two-year contract following a competitive pitch in September this year. As the lead agency, KWP! is required to formulate sound strategic insights based on ongoing analysis of market research, consumer insights and […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
McCann’s Action-Packed Army Ad Plays Out Like A War Flick Or Video Game
  • Campaigns

McCann’s Action-Packed Army Ad Plays Out Like A War Flick Or Video Game

Most army recruitment ads tend to steer clear of the blindingly obvious of military life – you get a gun to shoot the enemy or you get shot yourself. More so, agencies aren’t overly keen on promoting recruitment ads that are heavy on the guns or violence, preferring lifestyle or technical aspects of military life. Not so McCann’s new action-packed spot for the US […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Are You Dragging The Wrong People Into Pointless Meetings?
  • Opinion

Are You Dragging The Wrong People Into Pointless Meetings?

Donna McGeorge (pictured below) is a speaker and  mentor who helps people make their work work. McGeorge is also author of The 25-Minute Meeting: Half the Time, Double the Impact. In her latest guest post for B&T, McGeorge offers her tips on avoiding every workers’ hell- the pointless meeting… We all complain about having to attend too […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Francis Leach Joins The New Daily As Sports Editor
  • Media

Francis Leach Joins The New Daily As Sports Editor

Famed sports reporter Francis Leach has joined online publisher The New Daily as sports editor. A prolific broadcaster, journalist and program host, Leach brings his encyclopedic knowledge of sport and no-holds-barred critical analysis to the role. “Let’s face it, sport these days is big business. I’m interested in connecting and contextualising sport with the big […]

AIME Appoints Eleven To Champion 2019 Vision
  • Advertising
  • Media

AIME Appoints Eleven To Champion 2019 Vision

Eleven has been appointed to manage all PR for the Asia Pacific Incentives Meetings & Event (AIME) 2019, the leading show for the business events industry. Selected by Talk2 Media & Events, Eleven will drive a global PR campaign, working with sister agency FleishmanHillard, to leverage international media networks across Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East […]