Skip to main content

Hacking Culture: Social Responsibility or Business?

On June 25th, the Supreme Court declared gay marriage legal; a controversial but welcoming decision for most of the American public. As the verdict came out, every business, even the ones with no history supporting gay equality, jumped on the bandwagon. They rainbow-colored their logo, products, and websites to celebrate the moment. While I am thrilled with the broad support of marriage equality, I wonder how much this is real versus opportunistic? And does it matter?
Today's people measure brands not by what they say, but by what they do. People trust brands that are authentic, not the ones that want to capitalize on the moment. The new generation, millennials, value authenticity as more important than content. 43% of millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming news. Furthermore, millennials believe that advertising is all spin and not authentic. Only 1% of millennials said that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more. Therefore, using corporate social responsibility as a promotional tool does not work.
To gain people's trust, brands need to put their money where their mouth is. They need to make a sacrifice. For instance, CVS Caremark took a substantial financial hit when they decided to stop selling cigarettes in its drugstores. They could not claim to be a healthcare company while they sell products that kill people. Tesco, a supermarket in the UK, removed candies at the checkout counters in order to help customers to make healthier choices. Guinness pulled out of the NYC St. Patrick Day Parade over LGBT exclusion. In 2012, Google launched a campaign, supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights around the world. 
Therefore, if the social cause is not part of the brand core values, it should not be promoted. We are living in a culture of the moment. Everyone is trying to capitalize on what’s trending, regardless if it aligns with the core principles, to get attention. The problem is that people are skeptical about brands and advertising. So, brands are going to be measured not by what they say but by what they do.


Popular posts from this blog

The Curse of Advertising Resources

With more platforms, more products and more content who are trying to reach a disengaged audience, it is becoming harder and harder for brands to stand out. Conventional practices are no longer working. People don't watch TV as much as they used to, so they don't see commercials.  They don't click on banner ads. They don't pay attention to billboards ads. And they don't trust brands' messages. Part of the problem is that we are too dependent on traditional ad resources, which limits the realm of our creativity. To thrive in this new environment, we, ironically, need the freedom of a tight brief: what can you do with no budget for mass media?  Or limited marketing communications dollars?  To make a comparison, traditional advertising is a lot like countries and economies that rely on oil. This reliance handicaps innovation. Countries with a vast amount of natural resources tend to have (1) less economic growth and (2) worse development rates than other countrie…

The Irrational Power of Nudge Brands

Nudge brands are brands built on interactions, not attitudes. They are mostly defined by experiences, not TV campaigns. They are designed around people's inconsistencies and errors, not for machines. They are simple, not complex. They like to break things into small chunks that are less daunting than big tasks. They focus on changing behavior, not generating awareness and interest. The Paris metro system card is a nudge brand. It is designed against human errors. You can use the card in any direction. IKEA is a nudge brand. It uses the power of personal investment. The more involved people are in creating something, the better they feel about the end product. Ryanair is a nudge brand. It chunks the whole purchase process. They lock you in with a low 'seat price' first to get a mental commitment. Then, they start to add the extra charges in bite-sized 'chunks.' Hare Krishna is a nudge brand. It is built on the reciprocity rule by giving away daisies. People should …

The Irrational Challenger

Today, irrational is the new normal. People want products and services that break conventions and defy social norms. They have expectations that don't fit the traditional business model and feel irrational. However, they are very real and have created an irrational economy with irrational challengers. To thrive in this new playing field, business needs to be human, irrational. Think about it. Having a concierge to run our weekly errands for $99 month. Alfred. Ordering a healthy and delicious meal ready-to-eat under 7 minutes delivered at your door the next day. Hungryroot. Booking unlimited blowout appointments at salons in Manhattan for just $99 a month. Vive. (A typical blowout cost $40 to $90 inNew York City.) Renting a room on a month-to-month basis without going through the traditional methods of verifying applicants (e.g., two years of tax returns as proof of income).