Branding and the Shift to Socially Conscious Advertising: Important or Irresponsible?

February 22, 2018

2018, where your company is all about the story. With a largely diverse and globalized world, original products are difficult to find these days—left and right there are thousands of companies selling the same exact product or service, whether from India or Indonesia or the United States. So as companies transition into this reality, it has become evident that we as companies need to provide an experience to customers, a feeling, a philosophy, a belief. What can you give to a customer that no one else can?

Most companies are choosing to bring social service to their advertising, telling stories of those unrepresented, conveying ideas of diversity, the importance of coming together, and of community. But the question is this: are those companies just talking about these philosophies, or actually incorporating them into their mission, into their business strategy, into their core operations?

In 'The Best Brands are the Ones That Build 'Belonging'', Sebastian Buck expresses the importance of adding social connection to the brand and outreach: "Why would a for-profit brand put so much work into building belonging? The simple answer is because of the deep brand loyalty it engenders and the commercial opportunities it creates." When a brand connects to a social mission, such as representation, the importance of family, diversity in discourse, even simple things like human connection, customers can connect to it more; they feel as if they are being included in the company's core mission.

But are companies actually carrying out the policy that they promote? McDonalds recently released a television advertisement that divulges the role the chain store plays at bringing family together. While it's a touching ad, and makes customers feel like the company will be there for them, is McDonalds actually so responsible? What about the harm McDonalds plays in it's daily and general operations? Research has shown that McDonald's is actually extremely socially irresponsible, especially with how they treat their employees. If they can't even support their workers and their families properly, how can they speak of family values in their advertisements?


To this point, Nick Asbury writes in 'Is This the End for Brand Purpose', " "The central mantra [in marketing] is that ‘Doing good is good business’. It actively encourages brands to harness social issues as a way of increasing sales. It flatters them into thinking they have a higher purpose beyond profit, when they usually don’t".

Ultimately, we must ask: are companies as responsible as they market themselves to be? And is this new trend in branding ethically and socially responsible campaigns beneficial to spreading important messages to the world, or actually hypocritical?

Tell us your thoughts!

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