Integrating Social Issues into Marketing

In today’s convergent market, consumers are actively looking to connect with their favorite brands on deeper levels, which is why more corporations are integrating their brand values into their marketing campaigns. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are viewed by consumers as a chance to get a transparent view of the internal makings of their favorite brands. Companies are incorporating this new idea into old media, integrating their support of social issues and causes into their television advertisements and print campaigns. In The Marketing of Ideas and Social Issues, Seymour Fine states, “Social issues and causes are ideas that are of interest to many individuals within a society. They are ideas to begin with, but assume issue status as they spread, or are sufficiently important, by some standard or other, to warrant the attention of many persons.” Today, we have many prevalent social issues and causes that warrant consumers’ attention from poverty to sustainability/green practices, education, health and gay rights.

Dove released a video entitled “Dove: Real Beauty Sketches” at the beginning of the week. The video has already garnered more than 4 million YouTube views. The video touches on a social issue that many young girls and women face, self-esteem and body image issues. The video never mentions body wash, soap, or deodorant, but seeks to sell the brand as one that wants to empower women to love themselves. Dove is the not the first company to incorporate important social issues into their marketing efforts. Oreo, a division of Kraft Foods, posted a picture of an Oreo cookie with six-layered multi-colored filling to their Facebook page on June 25, 2012, National Gay Pride Day. With one post, Kraft came out of the closet and joined the ranks of Amazon, AT&T, JC Penney, Microsoft, Nike and Starbucks as a corporation that openly and proudly supports the fight for Gay American rights.

From gay marriage to self-esteem in women, companies are finding that consumers are more engaged with marketing efforts that integrate these issues. Why do consumers care? Consumers care because their dollar is valuable and they want to spend it on more than a bar of soap, they want to know they are helping effect change in the world. Consumers want the brands they support financially to have a soul and be proud to show that soul. Amazon recently followed Kraft’s lead by re-scripting a 2012 Kindle commercial to include a male gay couple and reintroducing it in 2013. The inclusion is very subtle, but makes a blunt statement about Amazon’s stance on the issue of gay marriage as well as reaffirming their posting as an innovative, forward thinking technology company.

With consumers having a stronger and louder voice than ever with social media, it is better for corporations to take a stand on social issues deepening their brand identity and making it easier for consumers to connect to them on an emotional level. While, the issue of gay marriage is a very sensitive topic across the country, there are less controversial issues that consumers are just as passionate about. When integrating social issues into marketing, the main component consumers want to see is genuineness and sincerity from the company. Consumers can spot a phony and know when a company is jumping on the bandwagon to make a buck. What issues does your company support and why? Do consumers have to search on your website to find out, or do you proudly stand publicly behind your causes?

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