Politically Correct — When to Use Activism in Advertising
No really, please don’t.
Not only is using politics as a vehicle to selling things ineffective, it’s morally reprehensible. Trying to get brand visibility by piggy-backing on a political movement is disgusting to your customers because it’s boiling down a real, important goal into a way for you to make money.
Pepsi is currently learning this lesson. Using “the youth’s” participation or interest in protest as a way to sell soft drinks has not worked very well for them. Belittling the efforts of activist groups as trendy and a way to make money for your brand is never going to go well.
Unless you are advertising for a political or otherwise nonprofit group, there shouldn’t be any politics in your advertising.
However, if you’re dead set on getting involved politically in your advertising there’s one rule you must follow.
Your politically themed marketing strategy needs to directly aid the cause that you’re piggybacking on.
For example, Starbucks.
Starbucks made a statement on the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Instead of showing some images of refugees in a TV ad or doing anything hokey, they took real action and pledged to hire 10,000 refugees by 2020.
Give a bunch of cash to the cause (but don’t pat your back too much while doing it), make a real statement even if it’s risky.
If what you’re doing doesn’t risk your business with those who might disagree with your politics, you shouldn’t do anything.
To do anything but assist change is to be “that asshole who’s belittling protest by making it trendy”.
And we wouldn’t want your brand to be damaged by a complete lack of insight into your customer or potential customer’s psyche, would we?
In short, please don’t use a movement as a marketing ploy, or at least make sure you’re doing something that helps facilitate change while you’re making a buck.
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