Before choosing what cause to invest in, there are several serious considerations to take into account. A range of questions must be asked, including:
- Is supporting a good cause the right choice for the brand in the first place?
- Do the brand’s values align closely with those of the chosen cause?
- What is the appropriate type of activism for the brand – social, environmental, political or economic?
- What are the needs and beliefs of the brand’s target audience, and do they align with the aspirations of both the brand and the chosen cause?
Of course, with brand activism comes a series of risks. Needless to say, brands will need to seriously consider their values and philosophies before pledging towards a cause, because if beliefs aren’t backed up with up with action, it’s easy to be accused of following trends for the sake of it. Which leads us neatly into one of the biggest potential pitfalls of brand activism: not being perceived as authentic.
Pepsi’s 2017 video campaign, featuring Kendall Jenner, was designed as an attempt to promote peace and understanding, yet was universally slammed by audiences and faced immediate backlash for trivialising protests and demonstrations. Campaigns that result in discussion are all well and good, but not when the discussion is unanimously critical – it serves as a warning to all that even the biggest brands can fail when they involve themselves in potentially sensitive subjects.