Why should brands care?
A new ad was launched recently from Pedigree. A beautiful piece based on a simple insight that dogs bring up the good in you and that Pedigree brings up the good in dogs. But even more importantly the ad made a strong statement on race – dogs aren’t prejudiced – as two men of different races are brought together because of their love for their pets.
Earlier this year one more global brand raised the issue of racial discrimination. Starbucks launched #RaceTogether initiative inviting their baristas to write “Race Together” on customers’ coffee cups and encourage people to start an open conversation about race relations. The initiative was criticized for many reasons and, to be honest, some of the arguments made a pretty strong point. Such as that baristas were given a task way too difficult, that you can’t start a conversation about race before you had your morning coffee or that a brand whose leadership team consists of 80% middle-aged white men wasn’t entitled to preach on inequality.
It’s easy to be cynical and ask why on earth should dog’s food and coffee shop brand raise such delicate issues? Why should they care about inequality and racial tensions when their main goal is to make profit?
It’s my firm belief that brands are entitled now, more than ever before, to be drivers of social change. And that includes opening difficult topics and raising complicated issues. Starbucks may have failed when it comes to the execution of the campaign, but I completely agree with Howard Schultz on one crucial thing – “the private sector has to take a larger role than ever before when it comes to taking care of people in communities they serve”. It has the financial capability and consumers’ needs and wishes on its side. It’s what great brands and great leaders have done throughout the years and have now taken it to a whole new level.
Social responsibility has to become more than a side link on a corporate web page. It has to become social action, a constitutive part of the brand’s promise. And while this is becoming common practice for many international brands, it is still very far from reality in Croatia and our region. It’s a common misconception that you have to be big in order to act big. You can start by trying to solve one small but important issue in the community you serve. Showing people that you care is what will make them care about you.
Brands should definitely care, because caring is what makes a good brand great.