When Nike featured beleaguered quarterback Colin Kaepernick for its “Just Do It” anniversary, the international sports brand took a big-time risk.
That risk extended to Kaepernick
Kaepernick supporters also feared that he took a big risk of trivializing his mission. The campaign sparked protests, and we saw people burning their Nike gear. Nike’s stock price initially dipped, then rebounded. According to Bloomberg, the company generated buzz worth $43 million in media exposure throughout the campaign. Clearly, an increasing number of consumers are looking for brands that support their values; it’s becoming more of a need-to-have than a nice-to-have.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has heated up
Brands are taking a stand; consumers are starting to look for it and exercise the power of their pocketbooks. Statistics show that in the U.S. alone, 57% of consumers are belief-driven buyers, up 10 points from 2017. A few examples of CSR:
- Ben & Jerry’s. A big heart and strong social conscience have always been part of the B&J culture. Their Pecan Resist ice cream supports four organizations working to support equality, justice, and inclusion, including the Women’s March.
- Who doesn’t love our own Marc Benioff and Salesforce–a billionaire philanthropist and disrupter who’s trying to make a better world, including equal pay for women. He and his wife created the Benioff Ocean Initiative at UCSB to study and solve global ocean issues.
- Reebok. With its #BeMoreHuman campaign, Reebok celebrates and encourages women to be their best by promoting its brand ambassadors, including stars Ariana Grande, Gal Gadot and Gigi Hadid.
- Target. This giant retailer donates 5% of its income to community grants and programs–more than $4 million/week.
- Everlane. This women’s clothing company has searched out ethical factories around the world, visiting often and building strong personal relationships with the owners. Factories get audited to evaluate things like fair wages, reasonable hours and environmental impact. They’re also partnering with the Surfrider Foundation to get plastic off the world’s beaches.
- Eileen Fisher. No sweatshops. Focus on sustainability and organic fibers. Quality, comfy clothing that baby boomers love, made right here in the USA.
- Levi Strauss & Co. Levi’s has a “Worker Wellbeing Initiative” to help improve the life of their employees. Levi’s has also trademarked their “WaterLess” campaign by using less water in their manufacturing processes.
- Starbucks.Partnering with Ethos Water, Starbucks is helping bring clean water to more than one billion people who don’t have access to it.
- Volvo. Last summer, the carmaker announced that beginning in 2019, all new models will be either hybrids or powered solely by batteries.
- Patagonia. The outdoor apparel company has long been an outspoken defender of the environment. As we watch the heartbreaking rollback of environmental controls, Patagonia has gotten more aggressive. Patagonia Action Works is a digital platform to help consumers connect with local grassroots organizations fighting for the environment.
Interested in getting involved?
You don’t need to be a giant corporation. Ask me about cause marketing—identifying a single cause and totally owning it. Contact us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing specialists.
There was a time when we talked endlessly about brand
But that brand conversation took place a lifetime ago–before SEO, social, Google and its endless algorithms hijacked the conversation. While the importance of brand has never diminished, it no longer dominates the dialog. But these are tough times for big brands as they try to figure out how to reach today’s consumer.
Let’s take a look at Procter & Gamble, (think Tide, Crest, Charmin and a whopping $7B in annual ad revenue) who owns the market on ad spend.
P&G is trying to focus that lavish ad spend on smarter, more accountable marketing
According to Kimberly Doebereiner, director of brand building integrated communication for P&G, “The consumer hates advertising right now. The experience is not good. Our industry, both the media and big companies like mine, are helping create that bad experience. We’ve got to figure out a better consumer experience.”
Annoying or irrelevant TV commercials are bad enough, but interrupting those using smartphones or tablets has prompted a surge in ad blockers. Doebereiner and others like her don’t really know what the future of advertising looks like.
Both an intern and expert in a changing marketplace
“I’m in the position of being an expert and an intern because of a rapidly changing consumer marketplace,” said Doebereiner. Over the last 21 years she has worked in almost every P&G category, helping build equity and strengthen communications. She is learning every single day about new habits and trends and how to reach consumers.
Consumers are part of massive changes in how they look at content, how they watch TV, how they buy their products. Yet big brands are left with comments about how bad advertising is.
Let’s not forget the economics of advertising and providing value
Some of us remember when TV was free. Advertising subsidizes content in virtually all media. But the model has changed—no one has free TV anymore. We’re all subscribing to cable channels at varying levels and streaming services, including phone and data fees.
“So what’s the value of advertising for you?” she said. “There should be a value. If advertising is giving the gift of information, we should be better serving you.” Repetition fatigue is a big concern for digital commercials. Spoiled consumers want “frictionless” shopping—we want to be able to order something on Amazon tonight and count on its being delivered tomorrow or the next day. That’s frictionless. That’s great service.
Will we be marketing to bots in the future?
Marketing companies such as P&G also must figure out how to market to bots—not just consumers. “How much of marketing will become bot-to-bot marketing?” she asked. “Knowing the algorithm, knowing what the algorithm is offering or promising. There will be things you don’t deem important enough to spend your time on that you’d just be happy letting that bot take care of for you. That’s a whole new arena.”
Savvy content marketers look to the latest trends and watch big brands for inspiration. I’ve spent my whole career in marketing, so I love this stuff. I’m always observing advertising, whether it’s TV, billboards, signage, online or print. It can be as simple as an email blast that hits my inbox. A lot of what we see is pretty awful, but there also are campaigns that just knock my socks off. And a special big round of applause for big brands that are using their platforms to make political statements. This has never been more important, and I’m delighted to see big corporations supporting causes, including women’s rights. A prediction: Look for the 2018 Super Bowl ads to raise the bar on ads with big heart and a bigger conscience.
Southwest is doing some really fun ads right now
I love the one where the coach is getting his team fired up to win. He’s told them that they’re going all the way, they’re not going home tonight. The next scene: he’s sitting sheepishly in coach, surrounded by his team. But who doesn’t like Southwest, the blue-collar airline?
Luxury brands that come with a suggestion that you really can’t afford them
Wealth and exclusivity have their appeal. Remember that gorgeous ad with Placido Domingo promoting Rolex watches? What about those beautiful Louis Vuitton luggage ads? They’re always subtle, full-page ads in high-end publications. Pictures of beautiful, well-dressed people going somewhere interesting that you can’t afford. These are aspire ads.
Craft beer is stealing our hearts and palettes
We may love our craft beer, but Budweiser wants us to believe that they’re still America’s beer. They hit all the buttons with their advertising—they’re still working it with those magnificent Clydesdales and the puppy ads during the SuperBowl. They’re selling pride in being American. Kudos to Bud—they’ve stepped up in the last year and gotten political. Through their advertising, they’ve supported immigration and gay rights.
Procter and Gamble may have the world’s biggest advertising budget
But they’re not just promoting toilet paper. They’re doing some good things with that big budget. I love the video ad of black parents talking about racism to their kids. “You’re not a pretty black girl, you’re beautiful. Period.” For International Women’s Day on March 8, P&G released its latest gender equality initiative along with the #WeSeeEqual ad. This ad is a series of scenes showing men, women and children in everyday situations, interspersed with text, such as “Hugs don’t care who give them,” and “Equations don’t care who solve them.” It finishes with a woman telling a younger co-worker “Do it,” with the line “Equal pay doesn’t care who demands it.”
The Giants wrapped up the 2017 season as the worst team in baseball
Yet our local team consistently hit a homerun with its advertising. Year after year, they make us love going to the ballpark because it’s such great fun. It’s the Bay Area’s team and it transcends every demographic; most importantly, the Giants make us want to be part of this. Crappy year or not, this is a terrific organization, and I’m betting that we’re going to see another stellar year of advertising and the Giants are going to put together a competitive team in 2018.
The most interesting man in the world got a lot less interesting. Stay thirsty, my friend . . .
For years, Dos Equis ads featured an incredibly sexy, silver-haired man who accomplishes extraordinary feats. “His passport requires no photograph; when he drives a car off the lot, its price increases in value.” Dos Equis apparently decided that the most interesting man was too old and replaced him with one who is boring and uninteresting. Bad idea.
Insurance ads are a total disconnect
These sly insurance ads start out with a clever premise, but there’s no relationship between that clever idea and the insurance. A total disconnect. Think about Aaron Rodgers and that adorable dog that catches the football. What’s the relationship between Aaron, the dog and State Farm? Even the Clay Matthews cameo at the end makes no sense. There’s another big consideration. If you’re insuring with State Farm, you’re paying for these expensive campaigns. Maybe it’s time to switch to a company that’s not dropping your hard-earned dollars on advertising.
Good advertising reaches us on an emotional level
As small business owners, we don’t have big advertising budgets, but we can become more aware of what big brands and other small businesses are doing and learn from their efforts.
When we see advertising that’s really effective, it’s because it’s reaching us on an emotional level. If that ad’s doing its job, it’s appealing to our senses—making us laugh, feel nostalgic or proud; it engages us. It can capitalize on our thirsts, hungers, wants and needs. Good advertising tells a story that stays with us. Ultimately it makes us want what’s being promoted–and that’s why big brands pour millions of dollars into their campaigns. We remember those ads and we’re inclined to try those brands when we get ready to buy.
I recently read an article that was a great illustration of how marketers are totally missing the boat when it comes to what I call Marketing 101: Identifying your audience. If you think your product or service is for everyone, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
This article was written by a colleague who did a seminar in our little burb last winter. He’s clearly defined his audience: small sports retailers. He runs sales seminars and workshops, helping them become enlightened marketers and salespeople, creating stakeholders with a heightened customer focus.
Sports advertising is inevitably about and for men
He’s taking a look at the outdoors/sports industry—the stores, ads, trade shows, etc. and virtually all of these are geared toward men. What? The face of the sales force and marketing campaigns is a masculine one. But that’s not an accurate representation of the industry. They’re missing the boat on several fronts.
- Women are the shoppers; they’re the ones who often do the shopping for the men in their lives.
- Women are often very engaged in outdoor activities. They’re fishing and hunting, playing tennis, soccer, baseball, and basketball. They’re rock climbing and racing bicycles, running and ice-skating, boxing and fencing, etc. You get the idea. Women have become fiercely competitive; they’re active, aggressive and involved.
Change begins with every retailer along the food chain
So how else can outdoors retailers and manufacturers start recognizing that they’re missing a huge opportunity and a historically loyal market? It starts with every sports retailer on the food chain. Incorporate more inclusive events into their itineraries. Start hosting women-specific clinics. Make the outdoors seem approachable to novices, regardless of gender. Women may have felt excluded from a particular sport, so change that perception; make it approachable.
Manufacturers also need to step up
Like the retailers, manufacturers need to upgrade their products so they’re geared toward women. No neon pink, but not crazy masculine, either. Ad campaigns should feature both men and women. The current model is currently either for men or for women. But since we’re sharing the outdoors, men and women should be equally represented.
Stop qualifying women in the outdoors or in sports
Market to women as members of the group, rather than singling them out. As women integrate into all aspects of industries, their roles and populations will grow. It helps shape the industry for women moving forward. Creating better gear for women, for example, can impact the younger generation, the current generation, the bikes women ride, the opportunities they’re given. We shouldn’t be breaking down roles by gender or ethnic group. No more women CEOs or Latino CEOs. It has to start somewhere. Making sports neutral would go a long way towards leveling the playing field for women. It will also result in increased revenue for retailers and manufacturers.
Procter & Gamble is one of the world’s biggest advertisers—as a result, their products fill households around the world–Downy, Tide, Bounce, Charmin and Crest. Yet they’re a big brand with a big heart and a conscience, and I’ve written a couple of articles about their video ads that have gone a long way towards supporting big causes. These days, we’re seeing a lot of this, and ya gotta love a big brand that’s not afraid to step up and do the right thing. P&G’s #LikeaGirl video a year ago was viewed by more than 38M people, and #WeSeeEqual video three months ago by 46K.
But now it’s June. It’s blistering hot with no end in sight. Like everyone else, I want to be on vacation. Lying somewhere with my feet propped up with nothing to think about but where I’m going to have dinner. Yet I’ve got work to do and deadlines to meet.
But I love this story. P&G has a new innovation that takes off from where its more rudimentary household products left off. P&G is now offering Bathroom Service in New York City!
It’s cleverly called Charmin Van-GO
And it’s bringing personalized bathroom service to select New York neighborhoods. The pilot is scheduled for just two days in June. According to the Associate Brand Director, “We’re always looking to bring people the best bathroom experience, both at home with our tissue and in new and unexpected ways.” It’s literally a bathroom delivered right to your footsteps. People on the go can avoid those random, frantic coffee-shop stops with Charmin Van-GO.
Traveling through NYC’s busiest—and now neediest–neighborhoods
With black-ish star Anthony Anderson onboard, Charmin Van-GO will travel through some of NYC’s busiest neighborhoods to bring bathrooms to those in need, while surprising and delighting people with bathroom humor along the route.
So my question is . . .
Is P&G serious about this or are they just having a little summer fun? Or is this something that could take off and start serving other neighborhoods, other cities? God knows the need is there. There’s no mention of the cost to use Charmin Van-GO or if there’s more than one van or plans for the future. There’s likely a place to wash your hands, using that old P&G classic, Ivory. I’m captivated by this. Most of all, I’m wondering if P&G is doing this as a whimsical summer fling or if they’re serious. A traveling potty. They could get an app . . .
When it seems like the whole world has dummied down, when we’ve had our fill of mindless ads, Procter & Gamble, a big, big brand with deep, deep pockets, a company that spends lavishly on advertising, releases an ad that is creative and smart with a message that has important social implications.
P&G steps up for women and gender equality
In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, P&G released its latest gender equality initiative along with the #WeSeeEqual ad. This ad is a series of scenes showing men, women and children in everyday situations, interspersed with text, such as “Hugs don’t care who give them,” and “Equations don’t care who solve them.” It finishes with a woman telling a younger co-worker “Do it,” with the line “Equal pay doesn’t care who demands it.”
P&G launched its first annual citizenship report in 2016, outlining its aspirations to build “a world free from gender bias,” including initiatives such as “Share the Load” for its Ariel laundry brand in India, where it claims that 70% of men think household chores are women’s work.
At last year’s International Women’s Day, P&G hosted a panel discussion on unconscious bias, where chief brand officer Marc Pritchard stated: “What you have to do is make it conscious. We can’t gloss over it. You’ve got to dig a little deeper if you’re going to address it.”
Taking time out to take a stand
P&G, the company that owns huge consumer brands like Tide and Crest, reaches millions of people all over the world. But P&G just took a timeout from new product launches and merchandise plugs to take a stand on an important social issue, showing that there can be an altruistic side to advertising. P&G has taken on gender equality in the workplace, and they’ve created an ad that has now been viewed more than 50,000 times. This is a powerful ad that will likely receive thousands more views in its endless life on the web.
Not the first time P&G has supported women’s issues
But this isn’t the first time P&G has taken a stand for women’s rights. I wrote another blog about P&G’s #LikeAGirl campaign. The company did a brilliant job of harnessing the Olympic momentum and celebrating women athletes. Unfortunately, a lot of young girls drop out of athletics because they become self-conscience about their bodies or lose their confidence, and it’s a tragedy. Kids who are involved in sports form strong relationships that can last for a lifetime. They learn important life skills—how to be part a team, how to compete, how to win and lose. And of course, as P&G points out, sports help instill confidence in these young female athletes—something they’re going to desperately need as they get older and deal with the world we’re leaving them.
A video of young girls playing nontraditional women’s sports
The video interviews young girls playing sports—particularly those sports that have been traditionally considered suitable for men—weightlifting, boxing and rugby. These young girls clearly think that girls should not only be able to play rugby—a very rough sport—but also be captain of the team!
P&G calls for Olympic athletes and organizing committees to inspire a world where “every girl truly feels that she can play sports and will Keep Playing #LikeAGirl.” Of course this is a plug for Always feminine products, but the message is heartfelt and timely, and it’s never been more relevant.