Advertising has a concept called ABC, which stands for Animals, Babies and Children. This was – and some will argue, still is – a sure way to engender your product into the hearts of the consumer.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the tissue company Twinsaver did it with an adorable white Labrador puppy; Volkswagen did it with a blonde girl holding a white Labrador puppy. More recently, Toyota did it with a talking Boxer and Telkom is doing it with a series of talking babies.
However, what is looming on the horizon is the ‘C’ being replaced with Charity.
Oxfam announced just recently (in its report “Even it Up”, released at the end of October 2014) that: “…From Ghana to Germany, South Africa to Spain, the gap between rich and poor is rapidly increasing, and economic inequality has reached extreme levels. In South Africa, inequality is greater today than at the end of Apartheid.” [www.oxfam.org]
It can be argued that few developing countries have access to the level and accuracy of measurement that South Africa has.
Brands in the future will be incorporating ‘charity’ themes within their marketing campaigns, as governments support social development on a macro level.
I have noticed a trend of brands leveraging their marketing and media budgets by supporting or creating affinity to ‘charity’ based campaign ideas. These ideas generally emerge online but are sometimes leveraged with traditional media investment, since brands are hoping that the cause resonates with the audience to help them share the campaign within the audiences’ network.
‘Charity’ possibly can be interchangeable with ‘Community’ since campaigns that help to change gender stereotypes have started to emerge globally but have some resonance locally.
Just think of these examples – P&G’s Always ‘#Likeagirl’ campaign and Unilever’s Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign. Unilever’s Princess Project – which aims to give girls a dress for their matric dance – is but another example.
The key in the future for these types of campaigns and trends will be authenticity and doing it properly. If you are doing charity for the sake of marketing, you will be exposed by a more critical and educated consumer.
With the emergence of content marketing or native marketing, authenticity will interestingly be measured contradictory to how little media investment supports these campaigns. This is the ‘Holy Grail’ of advertising, when a campaign reaches a larger audience by way of word of mouth or distributed virally via digital media channels.
But on the world’s (and Africa’s) biggest digital platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Google and Yahoo – where organic traffic is decreasing – the need for brands to ‘invest’ more in media will need to increase.
What we need, are legitimate charities that deliver support to high priority sectors of our society. These charities must get more marketing support from brands, in order to make the biggest social impact by helping as many people as possible in as short a space of time as possible.
At the end of the day, brands engage consumers on an emotional level. The brand that
manages to deliver authentic charitable community support and that makes the most difference in people’s lives will be the one that is loved by more South Africans.
[Green is the CEO of Apurimac Media, a digital media and marketing company based in Cape Town. Tweet him at @WillJNGreen or @ApurimacMediaSA]
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