Companies Can Use Advertising To Save The World
As more companies are seeing the value of teaming up with causes to gain customer loyalty and brand recognition by working towards being socially responsible, advertising more than ever can be their most powerful tool to communicate to the world what their purpose is. With our country spending more than 50% of their time reading on-line, think of the power that advertising can have today with storytelling that will tug at and reach the hearts of millions around the world? Marketers of all kinds are looking to raise their storytelling game and inspire people to take action. Advertising is a great medium to help companies reveal the role of real people in both problems and solutions. I believe advertising is getting a fresh start to help bring companies, causes, and people together to unite for common good.
One company that comes to mind that has seen advertising as a way to create social change is Kenneth Cole. Cole shared his journey as a fashion designer and his epiphany early on in his career: that he could use advertising to instigate social change. Over the last 30 years, he’s shaped the brand’s marketing into a pulpit for causes ranging from AIDS to homelessness.
By using advertising to promote a cause, companies and individuals can think big, act small, and repeat to get the word out for social impact. And most importantly, advertising is no longer being seen as an expensive way to promote due to how many people are reached in real time. Many companies are seeing that their bottom line is increasing in revenue and customer loyalty via their cause related ad campaigns.
An excellent example of a company which has chosen to use advertising to reach a large audience with a lofty goal is Change the Course, created by National Geographic, Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) and Participant Media, Its goal is to create a national water conservation movement. To create momentum around an issue that’s pretty intangible here in the United States, they are focusing on one highly recognizable water source and its plight: the mighty Colorado River, which no longer flows to the sea.
The campaign encourages people to shrink their water footprint by taking a pledge, which spurs corporate funding for water restoration projects along the Colorado River. After Change the Course saves the Colorado, they’ll expand the campaign to other endangered freshwater systems around the world.
Another example is Make Room Concerts for the 1st, which sheds light on the rental affordability crisis in America by bringing big-name musicians into the living rooms of struggling families for an intimate performance. Carly Rae Jepsen kicked things off for one family in Los Angeles, and new concerts will follow on the first of every month-the day rent is due.
Unlike most marketers, cause-related brands don’t have a product or service as a reason for people to believe their central idea. Their underdog status in the marketplace of ideas has forced them to recognize the power of a good story (which is a big reason why agencies love working with pro bono accounts).
So the next time you’re thinking about how to give purpose to your brand, ask how you can incorporate your cause into the business itself; reveal the role of the individual; and continue to think big, but act small, over and over again.
Well-told stories may save the world after all.