What’s in this article:
- While the majority of consumers are looking to brands to voice opinions on social issues, it’s up to companies to ensure their messages fit with their values, audience, and past actions
- Here are three good and two bad examples of brand copy and campaigns during these challenging times
We all want to do our part, especially in today’s unprecedented times. For many customers, that means supporting brands they feel are doing their part to be socially responsible. Actually, 52 percent of U.S. consumers factor values into their purchase choices, according to Forrester. So, for companies, that means aligning their copy and placement with those beliefs and causes.
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Global Leadership Bulletin describes this idea as corporate social responsibility (CSR), or “an ethical management concept where companies aim to integrate social, economic and environmental concerns along with the consideration of human rights into their business operations.”
An example of this concept is the Facebook boycott from 2020. When companies like McDonald’s, Walmart, Kohl’s, Geico, Dell, Disney, Allstate, and Ikea cut Facebook spending as part of the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign – due to the concern for hateful and divisive content being allowed on the channel. That was a big hit for the social media giant considering Walmart was Facebook’s second-biggest advertiser last year, spending more than $145 million in ads.
While it might be less about politics and more about protecting their brands, these companies and others are focusing on creating socially conscious copy as customer opinions evolve. Here are three good and two bad examples of brand copy during these changing times.
Not only did Disney take a stand by pulling its money from Facebook, but the brand also ran a “Black Lives Matter” commercial on its channels. Its TV ad, which had no talking, featured black children and teens with the text, “Listen. Learn. Heal. We stand for humanity, solidarity, and justice.” The copy is to the point, and the commercial’s silence caught people’s attention.
Disney is no stranger to taking a stand against social injustice — whether it’s about race, sex, or politics — so this campaign fit well within their image, landing it in the good examples.
After creating a coalition focused on ending race-based hair discrimination, Dove has expanded its efforts to help end racial discrimination, as well. But besides finding a way to connect with the cause (hair discrimination for a personal-care company), they also put action behind their words to the tune of $5 million to fight systematic racism.
That shows customers they are putting their money with their mouth, or content, is — something consumers want to see. Last year, 66 percent of consumers surveyed by Sprout Social said they believed brands should weigh in on social issues because they can create real change.
In Dove’s “America the Beautiful” campaign, they featured images from peaceful protests, ending with, “America will not be beautiful until it’s beautiful for everyone.” It’s a simple example of copy with a strong message that relates to their brand, and that should be the goal for every company.
Ben & Jerry’s
Top-ranked ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s has taken a strong stance for a company that sells sweets. For example, their “Democracy is in Your Hands” campaign includes articles, videos and more on different social injustices. In addition to the Democracy content, they also cover issues like racial justice, climate justice, LGBT equality, fairtrade, and more.
That might seem like they are spreading the brand too thin or that it doesn’t relate to ice cream. However, they’ve made social responsibility one of their core brand ingredients, posting about it on the company’s website, social media pages and more. They’ve also created ice cream inspired images for the socially conscious copy, tying it back into their products.
While good copy can help a company connect with its audience and show it cares about what they do, a bad piece can do quite a bit of damage. Whether the brand tried to be socially conscious and failed or simply acted oblivious to the current issues, it can prove to be a PR nightmare. And often, saying nothing can be just as damaging as consumers are looking to see what their brands stand for. Even Michael Jordan, who tried to keep his beliefs private, famously said, “Republicans buy sneakers too,” recently spoken out about racism.
That’s why the best marketing copy needs to be genuine and make sense for the company, unlike with these two examples.
If a brand is going to address social issues, they need to walk the walk, as well. Some have criticized McDonald’s “One of Us” campaign, which mentions seven black victims of violence, because many of its employees have gone on strike due to poor working conditions. With the majority of their employees being Black, it’s seen that they aren’t being taken care of during the COVID crisis — causing some to view the brand’s ad as hypocritical. The ad copy also mentions McDonald’s will donate money to the National Urban League and the NAACP, but it doesn’t say how much or when that will happen. The campaign earned a 2.9 empower score and 4 exploit score, according to Ace Metrix.
Playing on the company’s tagline, Gillette’s campaign, “The Best a Man Can Get,” was intended to push men to achieve their personal bests. It showcases bullying, the Me Too movement and other “male” behaviors. However, it received more dislikes than likes on YouTube and has been at the century of some controversy. Those who dislike the ad copy say it highlights modern-day masculinity stereotypes, while the company says it is trying to get men to achieve their personal bests. Unlike the last copy example, Gillette did specify they would be giving $1 million each year to nonprofit organizations to achieve that goal.
While the majority of consumers are looking to brands to voice opinions on social issues, it’s up to companies to ensure their messages fit with their values, audience and past actions. Consumers want to support brands they relate to and also ones that care about the things that are important to them. Make sure your copy is socially responsible so that it resonates with your customers.
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