I’ve always favoured brands that adopt a cause to add meaning to themselves and their audience’s lives. In my opinion it raises the whole conversation between brand and consumer from a transactional ‘buy me’ to an inspirational ‘join me in making this world a better place’.
It’s a slightly longer-term game that many marketing, and especially sales departments may not have the patience for – in a world where quarterly numbers are our raison-de-etre. But the indisputable fact is that a cause lifts you above the category clutter and the sales-speak of the marketplace – into a brand space that the consumer might consider worthy of even paying a premium for!
(Of course, this is assuming that the product is at least at par with the competition.)
A wonderful fit with the brand, it is a cause that was waiting to be spotted. And I think the timing is great too! Now that the viciousness of ragging – another form of bullying – is on the wane in most places, it’s only right that we start teaching our kids to be kinder from a younger age.
Kindness is not a natural trait among kids, who can often be meaner to each other than we imagine! It’s a natural instinct to try and dominate, but controlling our urge to be cruel is the key to living in a social structure with a place for all.
Before that is taught to kids, they resort to everything possible – little kids snatch and hit and bite others. And the older they get, the more subtle and sophisticated their methods become. From name-calling to boycotting someone to spreading rumours or even threatening physical harm, it’s a growing malaise in schools, in the bus, and even online and on social media now.
The awareness that the things that are said or shared on social media are never going to go away is also something that kids may not have. But that’s another topic by itself.
Cartoon Network takes up cudgels for the silent sufferers of bullying by telling them to ‘Speak Up’ to make bullying stop. And the brand also offers parents a ‘tip sheet’ explaining bullying and how they can help in stopping it.
Last month I had written about how cartoons are more violent and aggressive than comics and in my mind Cartoon Network was one of the brands that didn’t look good. With this well-thought out initiative, they have gained ground in my eyes.
In fact, if it catches on, Cartoon Network may even find themselves honoured with a place for their Stop Bullying posters on some school notice boards – where no brands are usually permitted. And that’s a marketing coup for sure.
Will it do something for sales in this quarter? I doubt. Will it make kids switch from other channels to this? I doubt.
But what it will do is improve parents’ opinion of the channel. I’m guessing that parents who’ve seen this campaign will let their kids watch Cartoon Network for “just one minute more, mama!” And that might be enough time for mama and sonny to chance upon an ad.
In today’s scramble for ‘eyeballs’, that’s all a marketing person wants from a channel, isn’t it – that they are doing something to make kids and their parents like them and watch them!
Marketing a brand is like growing a tree. You have keep watering it knowing that the fruit will come not in this quarter perhaps, but for sure eventually.
Even kids know that you can’t bully trees into giving fruit before they’re ready. But a little fertiliser in the form of a ‘cause’ could definitely speed up growth a bit!