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Brand Ethics and Consumer Values

A challenging reality facing marketers is that a brand’s commercial values and its societal values are so intertwined in consumer value perceptions, that they cannot be separated.

For companies to succeed in this critically discerning environment, they will have to ensure that their brands stand for a higher purpose, and how the company operates is aligned to that higher purpose. To achieve brand preference stature and consumer kinship they will have to ‘walk-the-talk’ on social goodwill initiatives.

Brands after all do not exist in pie charts, and PowerPoint presentations of marketing and advertising communication strategies. Nor do they exist in the online clutter of ‘nebulous brand content creation’.

In reality brands only exist in the minds of consumers, and if there’s no perceived higher value, there is no ‘Brand’ worthy of the name, merely another undiscerning, product or service distinguishable only by its logo from all the others on offer.

Fearless Girl on Wall Street

Stephen Tisdalle, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of State Street Global Advisors had this to say about the rationale behind their phenomenally successful ‘Fearless Girl’ campaign to promote the proven power of having women in leadership.

“People admire brands that have conviction and stand for something that has a benefit to society”.

“No one wants to be marketed to. Instead, we sought to create a symbol for people from all walks of life, race, religion and creed to celebrate the power of women in leadership. This required an unconventional media approach”.

From Offline Resonance to Online Response

The Wall Street statue to commemorate International Women’s Day, received international acclaim and successfully conveyed its intended message. The resonance the inspirational symbolism achieved with women of all ages globally, vastly exceeded expectations.

The resultant social media response highlighted the fact that online success can be very effectively motivated by a completely offline idea in a non- traditional media execution. For conventional media traditionalists it was a cause for reflection.

The statue generated over I billion Twitter impressions within 12 hours of its launch and that figure quickly increased to 4.6 billion and in the following 12 weeks 215,000 Instagram posts were also generated.

A truly remarkable online response from the public display of a small bronze statue that was originally planed to be temporary, but has now earned a permanent place of symbolic honour on Wall Street.

Advertising Agency: McCann, New York

1. State Street Global Advisors, Fearless Girl

‘Fearless Girl’ won the Titanium Grand Prix at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. This is an award that honours Advertising Communication creativity that transcends traditional media categories.

The campaign also won the Glass Lion Grand Prix that honours creative work that advances gender equality goals and initiatives.

2. Fearless Girl, Case Study

In all, ‘Fearless Girl’ won 4 Cannes Grands Prix and 18 Cannes Lions making it one of the most highly honoured campaigns in the history of the Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity.

3. Benetton, United by Half

Advertising Agency: Creativeland Asia, India

Production Company: Oink Films

Photographer: Suresh Natrajan

To commemorate International Women’s Day in India, the Italian fashion brand, United Colors of Benetton, asked women to join the social justice crusade to be seen as an equal gender.

The Benetton Group has a long-held commitment to a sustainability program aimed at supporting the empowerment of women worldwide.

India is Benetton’s biggest market outside Italy and is particularly popular among men who were therefore, a key target market. The message aimed to persuade them to recognise women as equal partners and acknowledge the need for genuine equality.

The campaign received an overwhelmingly positive response. After 7.7 million views on YouTube in less than a month, Benetton decided to spread the ‘United by Half’ message globally.

4. Dove, Real Beauty Sketches

Advertising Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Brazil

The powerful human insight that resonates with viewers is that in truth, women are their own worst critics. Research revealed that only 4% of the women participants in a global study regard themselves as being beautiful.

The aim of the commercial was to convince women that they are more beautiful than they think. It was filmed in a captivating documentary style and directed with much pathos and sensitivity by John X Carey.

The message motivated emotive responses that were far-reaching. 15 million people downloaded the commercial within a week and it was shared in 660,600 posts on Facebook during the first ten days. At the end of three months it had been viewed on YouTube 163 million times.

The campaign went on to win a Titanium Grand Prix the following year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

5. Procter & Gamble’s Always, Like A Girl

Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Chicago, Toronto and London

The social activism experiment ‘Like A Girl’ is based on a powerful insight that gender stereotypes are so ingrained in our culture, that they are even part of our language.

The expression ‘like a girl’ in fact, is often used as an insult to tease somebody who is weak, over-emotional or useless. If it happens to young girls at a time when identities are already very fragile, it can have a devastating effect.

The societal impact of this Always brand initiative was huge. The launch commercial on YouTube was viewed more than 90m times and shared by over 1m teenagers.

Men and women all over the world joined the brand to help reclaim ‘like a girl’ as a positive statement and the #LikeAGirl hashtag skyrocketed on social media.

As Bob Hoffman the advertising guru, renowned blogger, international speaker and author so insightfully observed; “Good ads appeal to us as consumers. Great ads appeal to us as humans”.

6. Audi Q2, Untaggable Thando Hopa

Advertising Agency: Ogilvy, Cape Town, South Africa

Audi’s Q2 defies being neatly classified as belonging to a specific automotive category or market segment. It’s a high-performance, luxury coupe that’s equally at home in an urban and off-road environment. In short, the Q2 is ‘untaggable’.

Sam Coleman directed this expressive home-grown version of the untaggable campaign with a great soundtrack created by Markus Wormstorm.

The commercial stars South African lawyer, model, actress and activist, Thando Hopa. She was born with albinism, and as many people with her skin-pigmentation all too often experience, it means having to endure societal exclusion owing to superstitions, stigmas and embedded prejudices.

With the moral support and encouragement of her parents Thando refused to be held back by societal stereotyping and is consequently rapidly changing the perception of albinism. Her inspired partnership with the Audi Q2 #Untaggable campaign is a celebratory tribute to an enlightened social consciousness about the diversity of beauty.