Image: © Zach Sebastian
We’re facing unprecedented times - a climate and environment emergency has been declared, displacement is a threat for more and more communities, civil space is increasingly restrictive, regressive girls’ and women’s rights, etc. - the need for everyone, brands included, to take action, has never been so urgent
I’m on a mission to harness the power of brands to add genuine value to societal progress, whether that be social or environmental. Why? We’re facing unprecedented times - a climate and environment emergency has been declared, displacement is a threat for more and more communities, civil space is increasingly restrictive, regressive girls’ and women’s rights, etc. - the need for everyone, brands included, to take action, has never been so urgent. So when it comes to brand activism, I’m increasingly interested in the apparent confusion between marketing campaigns and advocacy campaigns.
Advocacy is a broad term that employs a range of activities to achieve a desired outcome. The outcome is generally a change within society which impacts a social or environmental issue i.e. a change in legislation or a change in accepted behaviours. Successful advocacy is informed or led by those most affected by the issue and matches the call for change with supporting evidence.
An essential part of advocacy is campaigning, mobilising others to get involved and work towards the desired outcome together. Strength in numbers! For the purpose of this blog, I’m calling this an advocacy campaign so as not to be confused with a marketing campaign.
Advocacy campaigns aim to encourage people to feel strongly about the issue and to take action with the collective. An advocacy campaign may include a range of activities such as meeting with decision-makers to influence, commissioning research to evidence your case or protesting to increase urgency.
Some cracking examples of brand activism which include an advocacy campaign are:
So it’s simple, the difference is in the end goal of the campaign. Advocacy campaigns strive to change society whereas marketing campaigns aim to increase profit.
Ensure your brand activism isn't a marketing campaign - brand activism isn’t about driving engagement with your brand, it’s about acting out your advocacy strategy and advancing your societal goal. You act as an advocate for those most affected by the issue so collaborate with them and/or give them a platform and, most importantly, ensure your business activity does not cause harm to those you're striving to support. When developing your advocacy strategy, be diligent to keep your messaging simple and execute each action while keeping in mind what you want your audience to know, feel and do. Couple this with innovative and captivating creative and you’ll genuinely add value to the movements you're striving to support.
If you need a helping hand, get in contact!
Not ready for brand activism but want to make a positive impact? Progressive storytelling, telling the stories that challenge harmful attitudes and behaviours, is your subtle but effective opportunity and can be done as part of your marketing campaigns. I’ll unpack this approach in my next blog.