How can Brands set up a Cause?

As a child in dark blue skirt and sky blue shirt with the school bag over my shoulders, I remember sitting in the school bus and watching big hoardings of advertisements and being appalled at the beautiful piece of art in from of me. But I think we all have a come a long from the heydays of painted advertisements catching our fancy. Today’s consumer is over loaded with a bank of non-stop information. It’s living like Alice in the Wonderland. Wonderland full of multiple channels, advertisements, brands, logos and products all designed to make our lives easier. But the question is how many of these brands have a positive impact on our minds?

I believe brands these days want to invest in Bollywood lyricists and music directors to churn out campaigns than actually do something with a difference and a conscience. Sooner or later they will have to look beyond and take into account the concerns of the consumers. No longer can Brands be removed from the community and the life of consumers and live in a happy space. The concerns are as real to consumers as to brands.

Cause Marketing as I advocate is not about seeking a fantastic opportunity and saying ‘hey we can make millions out of this’. Instead it holds the promise of realising a new dream and sharing in the pain of the consumers.  So the question arises to ‘how can brands set up a cause’. According to me the answer to the question is a cohesive brand strategy that creates an emotional gambit among the consumer using the relevant issues and brings a significant change. Being an emotional being myself I believe sentiment is at work all through the process of reacting to advertising, from whether liking or disliking to our feelings and response to the brand. But if all advertisements create an emotional stimulus of some sort, the real question then becomes whether the brand evokes any mindful thought. Hence in my opinion the goal is to link the brand attributes to a cause, keeping in mind the prevailing events and raise public awareness.

Let’s take the new Hindu TVC as an example. Sometime back when I was just browsing through TV channels when this TVC caught my attention. ‘Behave yourself India. Youth are watching’ campaign takes an issue that is very simple and comes from our everyday lives. It asks us to behave wisely because it impacts the way our children or youth will behave. The ad tries to talk sensibly and puts the spotlight on the lack of political icons in of the largest democracies of the world. Hence holding the mirror to the society it provokes a sense of social-cultural change.

So for Brands looking at setting up cause marketing can follow a simple architecture to develop the marketing strategy. The architecture sits on three pillars People, Events and Brand attributes.

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People:

I won’t be wrong when I say you and I or people in general are driven by emotions. Depending on how we relate to the events that occur in our lives or around us, we react in form of happiness, sadness, fear, frustration, anger etc. These emotions are also tools to bind and connect communities.

Events:

Events could be geographical, political, social, religious, scientific, cultural, criminal etc. These events sometimes impact a large section of the population and can shake the collective conscience of the society. It’s true how the unfortunate event of 16th December 2012 changed a lot for us as a nation and as Indians. It marked the end of the world for most of us; however, it also marked a new beginning.

Brand:

Every brand aspires to connect with their audiences in a certain specific way. Typically these form the attributes of the brand (example: Coke currently is promoting ‘happiness’, a washing powder could be about cleanliness, health etc).

In conclusion I would say that for people like me who believe even small things can a make difference, I hope 2013 is the year of ‘cause-brands’,  and we get to see a lot less jingles and more of a strong platform to impact the mind of the passive consumer.

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