Actively taking a stand on an issue is a risk but, potentially rewarding. These five ads demonstrate which brands have had the courage to stand up and be counted!
In a world where consumers actively boycott brands for the slightest perceived misdemeanour or association, you have to admire any brand that takes a stand for what they believe in. Those that make it crystal clear where they sit on an issue, especially controversial ones, will have their courage rewarded.
A CSR study last year by Cone Communications and Ebiquity amongst 10,000 consumers in 10 countries found that a humungous 90% of respondents claimed to be willing to stop buying a company’s products if they learnt of any irresponsible or deceptive business practices. The only upside being that only 37% claimed to have researched a company’s actual practices in the past year. But still, 53% of respondents claimed to have actually boycotted a company’s products or services in the last 12 months!
Social media is giving consumers access to information at an unparalleled rate, empowering them to use their personal channels to learn and voice their opinions, both positive and negative. 61% of respondents claimed to have used social media to address or engage with companies around social and environmental issues.
Ethical Consumer, a UK not-for-profit magazine and website produced by the Ethical Consumer Research Association (ECRA), publishes information on the social, ethical and environmental behaviour of over 40,000 companies, brands and products. Its goal is to make global businesses more sustainable through consumer pressure, and currently lists over 50 brands (most of which are well-known) on their progressive boycott list.
Consumers are demanding authenticity and clarity around brand purpose more than ever before. Their expectations are shifting. As their distrust of the more traditional moral authorities strengthens, they are looking to other sources to help set the social agenda.
According to Edelman’s 2016 trust barometer, 80% of respondents felt that businesses should play a role in addressing societal issues. Brands and companies have the license to take on a more meaningful role. Those that are brave enough to clarify exactly where their metaphorical line in the sand is offer consumers a tangible value beyond what they actually sell. Those that don’t, risk irrelevancy. More brands should put their heads above the parapet; yes, you will get shot at, and sometimes you will get hit, but you will mean more to whomever it is that you want to mean more to!
1) Tecate Beer – standing up against domestic violence
Earlier this year, the Mexican beer brand Tecate launched a campaign called ‘A Mexico without violence against women’ in collaboration with the Mexican government and the independent National Network of Shelters. This followed research that found that two out of three Mexican women were victims of violence.
The brand basically says it doesn’t want to sell you beer if you commit violence against women, and is a significant departure from their usual ads that sexualise women. Tecate explain their reasoning and objectives via a Manifesto on their website.
2) Shiseido’s Products – standing up against gender bias
Japanese skincare, make up, and fragrance brand Shiseido aired an ad – ‘High School girl?’ that explores gender biases and preconceptions. It opens with scenes in a classroom of cute girls, but slowly reveals as the make-up is removed from their faces that they are in fact boys. The ad manages to highlight the quality of Shiseido’s products, but also brings into question our own predispositions and prejudices regarding sexual identity and gender stereotypes.
3) Heineken – standing up against alcohol abuse
Heineken, as part of its global campaign to promote responsible drinking, launched this ‘Moderate Drinkers Wanted’ ad which promotes the idea that women prefer men who exercise restraint with their drinking. The ad shows women on a night out, singing along to the song ‘I need a hero’ as men appear passed out after drinking too much alcohol. It ends with one moderate male drinker turning down another drink and consequently catching a woman’s attention! Previous female-centric approaches failed for both Molson Coors and Carlsberg, as there is a thin line to walk before patronising both female and male drinkers.
4) Guinness – stands up against homophobia
Guinness’ Rugby World Cup 2015 campaign in the UK told the story of gay Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas, and how he came out to his teammates. Traditional masculine stereotypes still dominate rugby in the UK, and Thomas spent years being scared of his teammates’ and the sport’s reaction to his news as he’d felt rugby was “so against everything I was”. But, as he explains, his teammates’ reactions surprised him as it didn’t matter at all, and they were there for him when he needed them most.
5) H&M – standing up against gender sterotyping
H&M’s Autumn 2016 collection 2016 was launched with an ad that attempts to redefine how you believe women should look, act and think, and where they stand in society, by showing scenes of women acting unconventionally. The unconventionality is driven by the ad celebrating normal women doing normal things!
The ad uses an eclectic set of avant-garde women including actress Lauren Hutton, model Adwoa Aboah, boxer Fatima Pinto, and trans actress Hari Nef doing whatever they want and dressing how they want. As a neat twist, an updated version of Tom Jones’ classic misogynist hit ‘She’s a Lady’ by Lion Babe is the soundtrack!