Trump. Brexit. The refugee crisis. Franco-German calls for European unity. Ongoing terrorist atrocities. Russian involvement in the US elections. The referendum in Turkey. The rise of populism.
It’s been an intense year for global politics, with political, social and ideological differences reaching boiling point. In the midst of a seismic change in global politics, marketers have been left wondering: what does it all mean for my brand; and how do I shift my brand’s purpose to stay relevant to the changed cultural narrative?
Here, according are four ways brands can win when taking a political stance on an issue.
- Encourage participation
Part of being involved in the political cultural conversation is asking consumers to get involved too. Encouraging wider voter participation has been done for many years (see every Rock The Vote campaign ever) but we’re starting to see brands leverage this in interesting ways. For the most recent UK general election Brewdog encouraged voter participation by offering a free pint of Punk IPA to those who could prove they had voted.
Brands should recognise that they can use their unique personalities and capabilities to encourage consumer participation in political issues. [Credit: Brewdog]
- Inspire a community
By taking a strong political stance brands can reflect the opinions and beliefs of the people they serve and work to make their lives better. In the last US election gay dating app Grindr not only encouraged its users to register to vote through in-app notifications, but also presented each candidates LGBT+ policies clearly. They have also encouraged users in specific states to vote against anti-LGBT issues, inspiring a community of politically engaged users.
To truly inspire a community brands must ensure that they reflect the opinions and politics of their target consumers when taking on a political issue. [Credit: Project Q Atlanta]
- Be authentic
The strongest political stances ring true when they connect to your brand truth and feel organic and authentic. During the EU referendum in the UK last year we saw Lush come out in favour of the remain campaign, but rather than just taking a pro-EU stance, they aligned it with their other activist efforts by encouraging people to ‘Vote remain for animals’. By staying true to the history of their brand they garnered more respect from consumers, whilst also encouraging them to stand for something and champion their political views.
When brands take a political stance they should ensure that it feels connected to their brand’s personality to ensure that it rings true for consumers and doesn’t feel like they are jumping onto a bandwagon. [Image credit: Bournemouth Echo]
- Think global
In an increasingly globalised world it is important to look at global political issues as well as those on a smaller scale. After President Trump decided to take the US out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement 25 companies bought full page ads in various US media outlets to make public their disagreements with Trump and his policy. Elon Musk of Tesla also publicly said he would leave an advisory council for Mr Trump, whilst other companies made clear that they would continue their efforts to fight climate change in spite of the new US policy.
Brands must recognise that they have a wide ranging, global reach, and that they can tackle global issues. [Image credit: Twitter @elonmusk]
Hannah Robbins is project executive at Kantar Added Value.