Advertising the Issues

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Advertising the Issues

Emily Dozier, Staff Writer

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Advertising based off social justice issues has become more popular, as seen through Nike’s campaigns with Colin Kaepernick and Serena Williams. Kaepernick’s advertisement stirred controversy because of the former NFL player’s stand against racial inequality; videos were posted of Nike products being burned in response to the partnership. Nike’s stance on police brutality and racism was, however, a reward well worth the risk.

The 2018 Edelman Earned Brand Report shows that consumers tend to gravitate towards brands that take a stand on social issues. It was approximated that 64% of consumers are belief-driven buyers, meaning they are more likely to buy or boycott products from a brand that takes a stance on social issues, like racism, gun control, or toxic masculinity. This was Nike’s tactic when introducing the “Dream Crazier” ad in addition to Kaepernick’s. Premiered a mere four months later during the Grammys, this sequel type commercial features female athletes with a narration done by Serena Williams. The Academy Awards are renowned for its political takes, making the timing close to picture perfect. The belief-driven buyers that the sports company aimed towards were thus more likely to view the brand in a positive light.

Nike isn’t the only company to base its advertisements off social issues. Gillette’s recent campaign had the same results as Nike. Some admired the brand for its alliance with the #MeToo movement, while others took the call as a slap to the face. P&G’s “The Talk” and “We See Equal” may not be as well remembered, but the campaigns served their own purpose. Pepsi’s 2017 marketing campaign featuring Kendall Jenner had quite the opposite effect. Its goal was to show support for protestors, as the ad was introduced when the Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter marches became more prominent. Pepsi and Jenner both faced backlash after the incident, being accused of trivializing the issue rather than showing genuine support. An apology was provided and the ad was pulled, but the soda brand is still reminded of the debacle.

While the marketing purpose was served, what’s the real reason behind these advertisements? Is the sole basis to market towards the younger, belief-driven generation? The overuse of social issues in campaigns is getting repetitive, making consumers wonder if the brands are taking advantage of the various popularized matters. It’s then up to the consumer to take the risk of buying from a company with no apparent values, or hoping their business goes to one that truly cares for the people it portrays.

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Emily Dozier, Staff Writer

Emily Dozier is a senior in Journalism 4 at Northgate. After high school, she plans to pursue a degree in journalism and communications while playing college...

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