To Politicise Or Not To Politicise: How Should Brands Straddle The Rope When Tapping Into Culture?

To Politicise Or Not To Politicise: How Should Brands Straddle The Rope When Tapping Into Culture?
SHARE
THIS



In this guest piece, Daniel Bluzer-Fry (pictured below), a freelance researcher and strategist in New York, and head of strategy at Live Safe, explores just how vocal brands should be about their political stance.

Daniel Bluzer-Fly

Amidst panels and presentations on design, media, along with cutting-edge technologies such as AI and AR, there’s been a strong trend for tech and innovation festivals in recent times to focus on politics and the raft of transformations and tensions we’ve been experiencing in recent years. Perhaps SXSW has been the harbinger on this front, especially through hosting politicians like Rand Paul, Barack Obama and others in recent years, and Northside Festival – an innovation conference and music festival held over five days in Brooklyn – was no exception.

In addition to Vice holding a conversation with US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, there were sessions such as ‘Will Silicon Valley Resist Trump?’, ‘Reporting Out Russia’, and ‘Prisons, Pop Culture and Politics’ just to name a few, yet perhaps one of the most engaging sessions of the entire conference was led by McCann NY titled ‘The Truth About America: Politics = Pop Culture’.

The session had two components: upfront a 20-odd minute presentation hinged around a piece of research conducted by McCann’s Truth Central – an insights lab within NY that produces work centred on topics such as youth, global brands and wellness to name a few – that focused on a report they produced in February called ‘The Truth About America’. This was followed up with a panel discussion chaired by McCann’s exec planning director, Mike Medeiros, featuring members from Bloomberg, The Film Society of the Lincoln Center and Frankfurt Kurnit exploring the production of film and the role it can play in shaping culture and informing community perspectives amongst other things.

Yet, it was undeniably the first part of the session that appeared to have attendees sitting up in their seats. With a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Americans aged 18 and over, some of the statistics that Truth Central provided were big. Over 68 per cent of Americans had read news about government or politics within the past three hours, with 28 per cent of those having consumed such content within the last hour – a strong opening point to illustrate how significant government and politics has become as a source of content engagement for Americans today. And it’s of little surprise when we consider that it is popping up across channels in all sorts of different ways – from Saturday Night Live, through to the Super Bowl and memes in people’s Twitter feeds.

But after exploring what divides and unites conservatives and liberals, understanding people’s outlook on the health of the nation compared to their communities and selves, came the most provocative finding – whilst 19 per cent of American believe brands should be political, 44 per cent believe brands should stay out of it (which leaves a curious 36 per cent somewhere in between or undecided). The sentiment behind the presentation of this data however, felt as though it was suggesting that brands would be best to stay out of it.

This is both fascinating and topical terrain for marketers at the present moment. We are living in a time that in certain categories, it is difficult for some brands to divorce their values and mission statements from taking a political stance given the polarisation of politics today. There are certainly risks and benefits in tapping into culture through harnessing different political ideologies – something I wrote about in more detail in relation to Budweiser’s recent communications earlier this year – and finding the right balance feels like it’s never been more important.

In recent days, we’ve seen a few big things happen in the US. Amongst them we’ve seen a number of tech giants join forces to commit to meeting the targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement – a decision that rallies against Trump and his current administration and aligns nicely with many a CSR charter (not to mention most tech companies’ generic ‘make the a world a better place’ mission statements.

Another big moment has just come after the Golden State Warriors took out the NBA Finals, and are strongly rumoured to reject the standard White House invitation to visit and celebrate their accomplishment with the president. From a sports marketing perspective, this also feels like it aligns well, given most brands in sporting category have brand values of inclusivity, community, tolerance and diversity – all of which are seemingly in tension with the current administration’s philosophies. And that’s just a snapshot… all around the world, strong brands are constantly leveraging culture and communicating messages which are inexplicably intertwined with political discourse and ideology.

So, what should brands do? More so then ever before, it feels like marketers at all levels need to be cognisant of the socio-cultural and political landscapes they operate in. This is quite the challenge, especially given that these landscapes will inevitably vary market to market and that many brands operate on a global level. It also feels like organisations need to put infrastructure in to make sure they have strong checks and balances before they release anything that straddles these lines – the recent PepsiCo disaster seems like a great case in point whereby marketers need to be diligent in assessing the risks of actions and gain perspective from people outside their bubbles.

It would also be fascinating to see if the McCann methodological design was created in a manner that would allow for category specific insight. After all, it feels like more depth is needed when it comes to gaining actionable insight into consumers think about brands taking a more political stance in categories like healthcare, finance, or sports compared to CPG or gambling. Unfortunately, when I followed up the folks from Truth Central to get further comment and insight into this, they were unable to comment. Apparently they were very busy preparing for Cannes… no doubt planning some parties to celebrate their gongs for ‘Fearless Girl’.

Latest News

Women In Media Profile: Naomi Shepherd
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Naomi Shepherd

Need a Monday morning pick-me-up? You could stand naked next to the office fridge or read these inspiring words.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
HooZu Appoints Rebecca Evans As Client Services Director
  • Marketing

HooZu Appoints Rebecca Evans As Client Services Director

Influencer marketing agency HooZu has announced the appointment of Rebecca Evans to the position of client services director. Evans brings diverse professional experience to the HooZu team, having worked across some of the world’s most disruptive sharing economy businesses, including Deliveroo and Uber. Formerly a business account manager at Deliveroo, Evans played a crucial role […]

Bauer Media Brands Unite Against Tampon Tax with ‘No Gender Selective Tax’ Campaign
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Media

Bauer Media Brands Unite Against Tampon Tax with ‘No Gender Selective Tax’ Campaign

Publishing player Bauer Media has announced the launch of its ‘No Gender Selective Tax campaign – a push to end what is essentially a tax on being a woman. The No Gender Selective Tax campaign is a major cross-brand initiative to remove the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from the price of tampons, pads and […]

Fairfax Announces New Partnership With Taronga Zoo, Launches ‘Wrong Skin’ Podcast
  • Media

Fairfax Announces New Partnership With Taronga Zoo, Launches ‘Wrong Skin’ Podcast

Publishing giant Fairfax Media has announced a new and exclusive partnership with Taronga Zoo, along with a new podcast series. Fairfax will bolster support for both Taronga Zoo and Western Plains Zoo via its The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun Herald, as well as through its suburban and regional networks. The new partnership builds […]

Shopper Media Group Partners With Mist To Offer New Tech & AI-Driven Capabilities
  • Advertising
  • Media

Shopper Media Group Partners With Mist To Offer New Tech & AI-Driven Capabilities

Australian retail out-of-home (OOH) business Shopper Media Group (SMG) has announced a partnership with AI-powered wireless networks provider Mist. The partnership will see SMG offer new WiFi, analytics and location-based services across the company’s portfolio of Australian shopping centres. Mist currently provides WiFi and location services using virtual Bluetooth LE technology to businesses across all […]

Indy Agency This Is Flow Wins Cruiseco’s $5 Million Media Account
  • Advertising
  • Media

Indy Agency This Is Flow Wins Cruiseco’s $5 Million Media Account

Travel organisation Cruiseco has announced the appointment of Sydney independent agency This is Flow (TIF) to handle its $5 million media account. This is the first time Cruiseco has appointed an agency, having managed its communications internally. Cruiseco is the largest and broadest distributor of cruise products in the Southern Hemisphere. With a membership base […]

APN Outdoor Takes Off With Queenstown Airport Contract
  • Advertising
  • Media

APN Outdoor Takes Off With Queenstown Airport Contract

Out-of-home media business APN Outdoor has won the tender for New Zealand’s Queenstown Airport. As part of the new agreement, APN Outdoor has flagged extensive development plans for Queenstown Airport’s advertising assets. The new contract adds Queenstown Airport to APN Outdoor’s existing portfolio of Auckland and Christchurch Airports. The media company will hire a South […]

Havas Secures Exclusive ‘Fight Of Champions’ Broadcast Rights With Foxtel For Australia & NZ
  • Media

Havas Secures Exclusive ‘Fight Of Champions’ Broadcast Rights With Foxtel For Australia & NZ

Havas Sports & Entertainment ANZ, a division of the broader global full-service agency Havas, has confirmed an exclusive deal with Foxtel to showcase the World Boxing Association (WBA) Welterweight Championship across the trans-Tasman. Billed as the ‘Fight of Champions’, Manny Pacquiao and Lucas Matthysse will square off for the WBA Welterweight belt this Sunday. Havas […]

The Question On Everybody’s Lips At Cannes: How Did Tesco Win The Grand Prix Media Lion?
  • Media
  • Opinion

The Question On Everybody’s Lips At Cannes: How Did Tesco Win The Grand Prix Media Lion?

In this guest post, PHD’s Chloe Hooper (pictured below) analyses the campaign that claimed top honours in the Media category at Cannes this year. I sat in the auditorium as the Cannes Media Lion winners for 2018 were awarded. One thing became instantly clear to me: it is all about taking home Gold or the Grand Prix. […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
MINI Australia Showcases New ‘Connected’ Vehicles Via Vizeum & Posterscope
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

MINI Australia Showcases New ‘Connected’ Vehicles Via Vizeum & Posterscope

An integrated campaign by Vizeum Melbourne for MINI Australia’s new ‘Connected’ vehicles will see digital out-of-home (DOOH) served via Posterscope’s Liveposter platform. Delivered centrally, the campaign will showcase the flexible qualities DOOH provides via multiple creatives targeted with specific data overlays such as location, traffic, time of day, and weather triggers such as rain. The […]

Women In Media Profile: Lisa Sheehan
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Lisa Sheehan

The delightful Lisa Sheehan straps into B&T's "cage of truth" we actually prefer to call our Women in Media profiles.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
News Corp, Storyful & Fox Sports Join Forces To Support AIME Hoodie Day
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing
  • Media

News Corp, Storyful & Fox Sports Join Forces To Support AIME Hoodie Day

News Corp Australia, Storyful and Fox Sports have joined forces in support of 2018 AIME Hoodie Day with a creative advertising, PR, social media and editorial campaign across print, digital, and broadcast media. Fox League presenter Hannah Hollis (pictured above) fronts the AIME Hoodie Day campaign, conceptualised, designed and created by News Corp’s trade marketing […]

Storyation Finalist For Global Content Marketing Agency Of The Year
  • Marketing

Storyation Finalist For Global Content Marketing Agency Of The Year

Sydney content marketing agency Storyation has been named a finalist for global Content Marketing Agency of the Year in the Content Marketing Association Awards in the US.  The only Australian agency on the short-list, Storyation was founded by two former Fairfax Media executives Lauren Quaintance (right in photo) and Mimi Cullen (left) and its clients include Tourism […]

Jaden Social Claims Integrated Marketing Tender For NSW Schools Spectacular
  • Marketing

Jaden Social Claims Integrated Marketing Tender For NSW Schools Spectacular

Jaden Social has been awarded the tender to handle integrated marketing for the NSW Schools Spectacular. The agreement will see Jaden Social manage marketing, media, digital and social across the 2018 to 2020 productions of Schools Spectacular, held at Qudos Bank Arena in November. Jaden Social underwent a competitive pitch to secure the account, in […]

APD Australia Appoints New Head Of Digital Product & Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Technology

APD Australia Appoints New Head Of Digital Product & Strategy

Digital transformation business APD has announced the appointment of Chris Butterworth as its Australian head of digital product and strategy. Based in Melbourne, Butterworth (pictured above) will be responsible for building on APD’s owned media team, growing its range of services and developing cross-channel products. Butterworth joins APD from Reprise Digital, where he was most […]

Apparent Appoints Joint Creative Directors From Within
  • Marketing

Apparent Appoints Joint Creative Directors From Within

Customer engagement agency Apparent has promoted Michelle Turchini and Simon Bloomfield to the newly created roles of joint creative directors, following strong business growth. Over the past 12 months, the independent Sydney agency has increased its staff to more than 60 people and moved into larger offices off the back of new and organic business […]

Targus Reinvigorates Brand Across The Trans-Tasman With First-Ever OOH Campaign
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

Targus Reinvigorates Brand Across The Trans-Tasman With First-Ever OOH Campaign

Targus Australia New Zealand has today unveiled its first-ever out-of-home media campaign to show off the brand’s fresh look and reinvigorated proposition. Showcasing how Targus connects people and technology, the campaign has been developed by the local arm of international independent brand design agency SomeOne, alongside a media strategy developed in collaboration with Sydney-based agency […]

Bedshed Reveals What Aussies Get Up To In Their Bedrooms In Fresh Campaign By Rare Perth
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Bedshed Reveals What Aussies Get Up To In Their Bedrooms In Fresh Campaign By Rare Perth

Last year, Bedshed commissioned a nationwide survey asking people right across the country what they get up to in the privacy of their bedrooms. It then gathered all the personal revelations together into a report, and now they’re sharing those details with everyone in Australia. The Bedroom Report reveals everything from our favourite sleeping positions […]

MediaMath Secures $US225 Million In New Funding
  • Advertising
  • Technology

MediaMath Secures $US225 Million In New Funding

Programmatic advertising player MediaMath has announced an integrated set of initiatives designed to advance the next generation architecture for digital marketing. The company is unveiling a range of investments in technology, people and relationships, as well as US$225 million in new financing, to accelerate its mission to connect marketers with consumers in a manner that […]

Christie Spaces Chooses The Wired Agency To Lead Digital Marketing
  • Marketing

Christie Spaces Chooses The Wired Agency To Lead Digital Marketing

Co-working space company Christie Spaces has announced the appointment of The Wired Agency as its new digital marketing agency in Australia. Tasked with maximising campaign performance through their trademarked hyper-segmentation and hyper-optimisation techniques, The Wired Agency will be leading search advertising, display advertising, and SEO for Christie Spaces. The company exists to provide a space […]

Realestate.com.au & Mazda Unveil Property Construction Video Series
  • Marketing
  • Media

Realestate.com.au & Mazda Unveil Property Construction Video Series

Property website realestate.com.au has launched a video series showcasing the trials and tribulations of an epic demolition and transformation by interior stylist and well-known Instagrammer Catherine Hegarty. The Heraghty family bulldozed their quaint weatherboard in Sydney to make way for a duplex, which will be the focus of the 2 in Twelve series, which you […]

Jimmy Brings & Spotify Curate Limited Edition Wine & Music Pairings Via Eleven
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

Jimmy Brings & Spotify Curate Limited Edition Wine & Music Pairings Via Eleven

Eleven has worked with alcohol delivery service Jimmy Brings and Spotify to launch three limited edition wines that marry perfectly with music. The Songmelier Edition range features an Australian sparkling, sauvignon blanc and reserve shiraz, each paired with a Spotify playlist accessible via a code on the label. Wine lovers can simply scan the code […]

IPG’s 303 MullenLowe Appoints WA Creative Duo
  • Advertising

IPG’s 303 MullenLowe Appoints WA Creative Duo

Interpublic Group’s 303 MullenLowe has announced the appointment of Western Australian creatives Melita Masters and Bianca Galan-Dwyer to its team. Masters (pictured above, left) and Galan-Dwyer (pictured above, right) joined forces in 2016 at The Brand Agency, quickly establishing themselves as a first-rate creative duo with their multi-award-winning campaign ‘Let’s Thursday Like We Friday’ for the […]

Top Marketers Join Forces To Explore Best Practice
  • Marketing

Top Marketers Join Forces To Explore Best Practice

Some of Sydney’s top senior marketers have banded together to form a council that aims to develop best practice around launch marketing. The Launch Marketing Council (LMC) is an initiative by global independent launch agency Five by Five and will meet twice a year to share experiences around various launch marketing topics. The panel is […]

My Top Takeaways From Programmatic Week
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

My Top Takeaways From Programmatic Week

In this guest post, Amnet MD Indy Khabra (pictured above) shares his top takeouts from Programmatic Week – a week dedicated to educating Dentsu Aegis Network staff on the very latest innovation and changes to the industry. The speed of technological disruption is accelerating. Keeping on top of the latest developments is challenging – even […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine