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Campaigns for a cause spell trouble. Do them anyway

Doing good in the world is always worth the risk, as long as your motives are pure. Text100 Hong Kong’s Fran Ayala explains

Doing good in the world is always worth the risk, as long as your motives are pure. Text100 Hong Kong’s Fran Ayala explains

International Women’s Day gains traction each year, with marketers across the globe aligning their March campaigns to this cause. Thanks in part to social media, gender inequality has escalated to a unified shout for change. Many brands have joined the cause, standing proud with women’s rights advocates, making it clear that ignorance is no longer an excuse.

As it turns out, brands that aren’t afraid to be woke are winning, bumping more passive competitors down a few notches in terms of awareness and consideration.

Think of Fearless Girl. Raising Voices. Jane Walker.

These campaigns make it clear that they’re pressing for progress. They’re shedding light on an issue, not selling a product – this is what wins hearts and minds.

In the age of purpose-led organizations, more brands are keen to invest in values-based marketing campaigns. It isn’t hard to make a case for a Women’s Day campaign. It’s an opportunity for brands to participate in a global conversation and make their point to a like-minded audience. What could possibly go wrong?

A lot

There’s a difference between championing a cause close to your brand values and using its momentum to serve your marketing goals. Those willing to ditch authenticity to up their engagement rates should be wary. Today’s audiences have acute BS-detectors and they can sniff out which brands can really walk the walk.

Brands must check themselves before jumping on a cause’s bandwagon, even if they really do support it. Someone online will scrutinize their company and what it stands for. One well-researched bash in the blogosphere and several hundred retweets can turn a campaign into a crisis. Then, voila: brands become #hypocrites.

Championing a cause is a slippery slope because they subject companies, and not just their campaigns, to public scrutiny.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do them

Sure, it’s easier than ever for the press and the public to dig up dirt. It’s even easier for brands to not talk about important issues. To sit back, doing their told-you-so dance to competitors that dare chime in.

Easy, however, is not what gets brands noticed. And it’s not what makes change.

Campaigns genuinely supporting a cause should be viewed as a good thing, regardless of how the public reacts to them. If they shine a light on important issues, that’s great. If they uncover some hard truths that need to be addressed, then companies should address them.

The important thing is to be active participants in important conversations and make sure that the public continues to talk about these issues. The more they’re talked about, the closer we get to change.


This post was first published on Telummedia.com, reproduced here with permission.

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