Stand Up to Stand Out


In 2018, Nike took a stand with their Colin Kaepernick campaign to show their support for his protest against racism and social injustice. The results of this campaign, according to 4C Insights, was that the brand saw a 1600% rise in social media mentions right after the campaign launched. Mentions of Kaepernick rose over 300,000%. Yet, for those incredible numbers, Nike only saw a 60% increase in people relating the brand to any cause at all according to a survey. And only 27% associated the campaign with standing up to social injustice. 

Colin Kaepernick Nike Ad(photo: Nike)

So, here’s the big question: Does cause marketing work? It’s more complicated than just a yes or no answer. You have to stand up for a cause the right way. You have to walk the walk and talk the talk. One of our clients, Brand|Pride, helps Fortune 500 companies and national sports teams do just that by asking brands to not only participate in Pride events, but to also get their swag from an LGBTQ-certified vendor. By doing this, brands that participate in LGBTQ events come across as truly inclusive, putting their marketing dollars where their ideals are. Another interesting fact is that 72% of people “believe their purchases make a moderate-to-significant impact on social or environmental issues.” (Sustainable Brands) That’s huge, and it’s paying off. 

Statistics like these prove that standing up for a good cause, whether it’s taking a stand for inclusiveness, equality, the planet and even animals, is good for business. The trick is finding a cause that feels authentic to your brand. 

Below are 3 tips to help your cause marketing actually make a difference: 

1) Find Your Angle

Find a unique angle and go for it. For example, most makeup brands only have a few shades of foundation for women of color to choose from, making it virtually impossible for them to find a shade that matches their skin tone. In the past, this has led many women to feel as though they weren’t represented in the beauty category. Yet, when Fenty Beauty, Rihanna’s beauty brand launched, it could boast over 40 different foundation shades, doing something other makeup brands hadn’t done yet. Their message of beauty inclusiveness was heard loud and clear with their “Beauty for All” campaign. And now, other brands like Covergirl and Glossier and are coming out with more shades, too. So, while other beauty brands play catch up, Fenty comes across like a trailblazer. 

Fenty Beauty ad(photo: Fenti Beauty)

2) Stay Consistent 

Once you’ve got a message or a cause you’re passionate about, stick with it. Make it clear that you support this cause in every communication that you put out. For example, since 2004, Dove’s message of body positivity has been front and center in their marketing and it’s worked. Dove is now synonymous with “real beauty”. In every form of marketing, whether it’s on social media or on TV, their message is the same. Yours should be, too. 

3) Get Controversial 

When Patagonia’s, “The President Stole Your Land” campaign launched, Patagonia’s web traffic exploded when they posted this statement:  “In an illegal move, the president just reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. This is the largest elimination of protected land in American History.” The campaign took off like wildfire, rallying their core audience while making their target feel proud of their Patagonia gear. Another reason this campaign worked was because Patagonia truly believed in what they were fighting for and their audience felt it. So, make sure that you wholeheartedly believe in the cause you’re standing up for before pulling the trigger on a controversial campaign. 

Screenshot: The President Stole Your Land - Patagonia Campaign(photo: Patagonia)

Interested in learning more about how to stand up for a cause in your marketing? Let’s talk. We can help you develop a campaign that will get people to rally behind your brand. 

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Rachel Wilson
Written by Rachel Wilson
Rachel is a strategic copywriter with a knack for telling brand stories that get people talking, sharing, tweeting and loving the brands she writes for like New Orleans Office of Tourism.

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