May 9 2017

Forbes: Social Good Campaigns Are Here And They Aren't Going Anywhere

Thought Leadership, David Schwab, Forbes, Media, Social Good, First Call

Octagon First Call's David Schwab continues his regular contributions to Forbes with a piece outlining the key points for brand marketers to consider when identifying the face of their social good efforts.

Over the past few months corporate responsibility and social good campaigns have become omnipresent as corporations large and small use social initiatives as part of their larger marketing campaigns. Not only is it the right thing to do, but consumers now expect brands to stand for something and take action in a demonstrative way.

They offer a significant source of pride for employees, increasing morale and contributing to the overall culture of the brand. Like their consumers, these employees feel more optimistic about their company’s future and believe they are being more competitive if they engage in this type of program.

These programs require a heightened level of authenticity, as the brand and their ambassadors must appear to be aligned on both their support for the product being advertised, as well as the specific cause they are championing. It is important for marketers to think carefully about all of the roles that a person could potentially fill during the campaign and to choose talent who will be able to successfully and authentically carry out each of the tactics being employed. The type and level of person chosen - whether it be a social influencer, famous athlete or even the brand’s CEO – should be dictated by who is best suited to accomplish the desired result and not just based on their fame.

Here are some key points for brand marketers to consider when they’re identifying the face of their social good efforts:

You Are Under A Microscope. Social good and purpose-driven campaigns are viewed with a higher level of scrutiny than a traditional marketing campaign. The first hurdle that must be cleared is the authenticity test. If a brand chooses to use a celebrity or social media personality as the face of their initiative, it is important they do not disrupt or distract from the story being told, but rather add to it. As we have seen with Pepsi Kendall Jenner, a disruption can lead to immediate public backlash

Don’t Start From Scratch. A new campaign does not always require a new face. Brands should consider tapping into the roster of current brand ambassadors, as this fosters brand consistency and will likely feel more authentic to consumers. Additionally, consider looking inside the organization for an executive or employee who brings a dynamic personality and a genuine passion for the cause.  No one is better positioned to talk about what’s meaningful to a company than the employees who live it each day. Take for example: Tom of Tom’s of Maine, Neil Blumenthal & David Gilboa of Warby Parker, or Burt (before he passed away) of Burt’s Bees. Their faces are synonymous with their brands and have served as impactful ambassadors, driving their brand’s message and values.

Risk Vs. Reward.  If you decide to use a CEO, know the risks and communicate those with all the stakeholders. There are always more risks associated with a spokesperson that is so close to the business. It’s much easier for a brand to disassociate itself from a celebrity or influencer outside of the business, than it is to disconnect from an executive within the company, meaning that any negative effects could have greater, more long-lasting impact than anticipated. Marketers should vet an internal spokesperson the same way they do someone from the outside: Will they deliver the desired messaging well?  What are their personal connections to this cause? What ideas and influence will they bring to the campaign? What risks do they bring? Will they pass the authenticity test?

Field A Team.  Ambassadors can be used for general advocacy, testifying before lawmakers, fundraising, employee events, media appearances, and yes — social content.  It’s important to recognize that a roster of individuals may better suit the tactics of the campaign, because they can deliver a specific skill set that would benefit different activities. This isn’t new, brands have been doing it for years - we launched the Ronald McDonald House Charity Celebrity Advisory Board with 15 people of influence years ago. Use the amount of people necessary to fulfill your objectives and provide the return needed. Start with why, how and when not who or how many.

Social good is here to stay, just don’t mess it up.


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