How brands are using social issues as a means to create buzz.

Propagating a social cause in campaigns seems to be the one and only way for brands to reach out to consumers. However, the question that arises is that how true brands are to these issues they rally behind.In fact, is a brand allowed to even take a stand?

According to Colleen DeCourcy, co-president and chief creative officer, Wieden+Kennedy, it’s not necessary for a brand to take a position. However, if a brand is being able to take one it should remain true to the believe of that cause and bring authenticity and value to the table. “Brands need to stop telling things to people for the sake of trending it and focus on being authentic and valuable,” she said.

On the contrary, Troy Ruhanen, president and chief executive officer,TBWA, believes that each brand needs to have a conscious rather than a purpose.“It’s important to remember that actions speak louder than words. Consumer wants to see brands stand up and do something about a particular issue rather than simply talking about it,” he added.

Agreed, Kenya Barris, writer and producer, Netflix, who said that brands need to remember that their target audience is very smart. “Brands need to remember that today’s youth will support a company only if it is on the right side of history. They will leave a brand if they don’t agree with its narrative,” he noted.

The trio spoke on the topic, ‘Stop holding your breath: Brand activism in a hyper-charged society’. The session was moderated by moderated by Tiffany R. Warren, SVP and chief diversity officer at Omnicom, and founder and president, ADCOLOR.

The trio further agreed on the note that brands should not only should support social causes but also act as an activist. According to therm, activism is the definition of disruption. 

As per DeCourcy, the core of brand activism is being ‘active’. “Brands should be prepared to be uncomfortable, should be ready to lose some consumers,” she added.

For Barris,companies can’t run businesses without being involved in the culture, yet at the same time they should be careful and not be opportunistic about it. For him, it is sad to see that the presently brands are corporatising social issues rather than actually thinking of bringing about a change.

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