This Summer, Pride Month saw overwhelming support from brands across the world. From Aldi to Adidas, Sainsbury’s to Skittles, there was no doubt that in June we were all batting for the same team when it came to supporting LGBT rights.
It’s not the first time that a brand has aligned itself with a social or political cause, but it is a trend which seems to be on the up. In the past, company directors have often played it safe, reluctant to go out on a limb and stand up for a cause, particularly a politically or socially divisive one. But all that is changing thanks to an uncertain and quickly pivoting political and social landscape.
PR portmanteau of the decade, ‘Brexit’ and the appointment of Trump has ignited a new and impassioned interest in social and political issues amongst Millennials and Gen Z. As a result, political sentiment is looming toward the left, elevating the likes of Jeremy Corbyn to rock star status, who at this year’s Glastonbury Festival pleaded for a revolution against capitalism in favour of community, fairness and compassion.
It’s no surprise then that some of the world’s best-known brands are adapting their marketing strategies away from the excesses of the past, and aligning with real issues which chime with the current sociopolitical zeitgeist.
Heineken’s recent Open your World campaign is the perfect example of a brand turning its marketing strategy toward togetherness and community, using the Heineken product to connect people whose opinions may have otherwise divided them.
Another is the Cannes Lions award winning ‘Fearless Girl’ which generated international PR coverage with its simple yet powerful message about gender diversity in the corporate world, and lack thereof.
Although these campaigns explicitly address cultural issues high on today’s agenda, the greatest marketing campaigns in history have always had a transcendent, sociopolitical undercurrent. There is no doubt that Apple’s Think Different campaign resonates with audiences beyond the immediate implication of breaking boundaries within the technology sphere, just as Nike’s Just Do It slogan elevates the brand to be more than just sports. We can even look to Coca Cola’s Share a Coke message which fundamentally is about community and human connectivity.
Pride Month, however doesn’t quite have the same impact per brand and you have to wonder the return on investment in jumping on this particular bandwagon. Strategically it seems more like a toe in the water than a proactive consumer message; standing up for something without really putting your head above the parapet.
As the political landscape shifts and contorts in the coming year or so it will be interesting to see which brands truly have the balls to do things differently, using insight into the changing priorities of its audience to create truly impactful campaigns.