Should companies care?
As the only Western country left to introduce marriage equality, Australia’s sterile government and vocal conservatives had stalled the conversation, casting a shadow over Australia’s beloved reputation for diversity. The inertia frustrated LGBTQI community and its allies with no resolution in sight.
Enter Airbnb and friends
In 2017, Airbnb launched Until We All Belong with their Acceptance Ring in Australia in support of marriage equality. Together with some of Australia’s leading brands in Qantas, ANZ and Ebay, Airbnb drew a clear line in the sand; this is important to us and our community.
Backlash ensued with the same stay in your lane sentiment laid on organisations who had been outspoken on other issues. How could they justify upsetting such a huge chunk of their potential market?
Six months later, marriage equality became a reality in Australia. Airbnb had sold 170,000 rings in just a few months and were lauded for their role in driving the conversation forward.
Communities are looking for leadership.
In 2016, Brexit, Trump, and close elections in France and Germany signaled a move towards more conservative, self-serving government. The world was short of quality leadership, with governments turning their backs on the global community.
In reality, we shouldn’t look to governments to drive culture and community forward. That’s not how democracy works. Legislation changes off the back of social groundswell, but with no real leadership in the community, where do grassroots movements come from? The burden, and opportunity, falls onto the organisations these communities trust.
Brands can (must) lead communities.
Aligning with a cause has a clear role to play in the success of brands. This week, BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink laid down an ultimatum to the companies they invest in: do something good for your community or find new funding.
Brands can seek comfort in the way history has sided with them. Watch this short video as Peter Fitzsimmons defends the Australian Football League’s position in supporting marriage equality.
Consumer expectations are changing as well, with a report by Sprout Social noting that two-thirds of consumers believe it’s important for brands to take a stand on social and political issues that impact their users.
From the rugby community and apartheid in South Africa, to Salesforce and Apple forcing Indiana to backtrack on discriminatory legislation; organisations must lead the community.
Marketing evolution at TransferWise
We’re comfortable wading into awkward situations to drive fairness in finance. It’s a cause that directly impacts our customers. But recently, we realised there’s something more meaningful connecting our more than two million users together, the global community.
Each of our customers have interacted with another culture through families, friends, or their own adventures. TransferWise is their gateway to the world.
As the world was shrinking and governments were tightening borders, we saw a huge opportunity to build on our message of fairness in finance to advocate for a more open and diverse world.
In December, we launched a campaign around supporting immigration and diversity in the United States and Australia. The campaign took slightly different shapes in each region, but the message was the same — more open borders will see the global community thrive.
The response was emphatic. For every inspirational story of immigration, there was backlash with it’s perceived negative impacts. We’d clearly hit a nerve, with the conversation evolving into a vicious debate on legal immigration around the world. Was it really our role to take sides?
We’d upset some of our customers who would never use our service again.
It’s worth the pain.
Amidst the debate online, there was a genuine sense of pride within our team. TransferWise employs 950 people from over sixty countries. Most of whom are living and working in a country different from where they were born. Regardless of public sentiment and whether you’d consider this a successful campaign; this cause is our cause, too.
Inspiring stories from Achin and countless other immigrants are that of everyday TransferWise customers. Twitter trolls have moved on to their next target, and we’ve built stronger relationships with the people who matter most to us.
TLDR; do it.
The role of brands in their community is changing. Investors are looking to support companies who give back, customers are looking for brands to support the issues they care about, and communities at large are looking for organisations to drive change. It’s an important role; and it’s up to us to deliver.
Stay tuned for our next campaign.