Brands Take Stands: How Nike Just Did It Better Than Ever

Nike just did it. Other brands are doing it. And overall, social media just got a bit more political, as brands take stands. The “2018 Edelman Earned Brand” study was just released that shows nearly 65% of consumers around the world now buy on belief, or buy from brands that have similar beliefs as they do, about morals, values, social issues and politics.

Nike just did it. Other brands are doing it. And overall, social media just got a bit more political, as brands take stands.

The “2018 Edelman Earned Brand” study (opens as a PDF) was just released that shows nearly 65% of consumers around the world now buy on belief, or buy from brands that have similar beliefs as they do, about morals, values, social issues and politics. These consumers state that they will choose, switch or boycott a brand accordingly. And important to note, the number of customers saying this is how they choose and align loyalty went up 13% from 2017. While this was a global study, the increase in just the U.S. was 12% points, year-over-year.

Referring to these customers as “Belief-Driven” buyers, Edelman’s research points out that they are the majority of buyers in all marketers and across all age groups surveyed in this recent global survey. And surprisingly, the biggest increase in belief-driven purchasing choices is among the 55 years and older group. Just FYI, the increase in Millennials was 9%, in GenX, 14% and Baby Boomers, 55%.

Yet when Nike took a recent stand by featuring Colin Kaepernick in a new ad, social media lit up with videos and photos of consumers burning their expensive Nike shoes, and posts about how Nike “Just Blew It.” For a minute, Nike’s stock value dropped. Note: for a minute. Days after the fury and flurry died down in the media waves, the stock value soared 4% to an all-time high, and online sales the weekend the ad hit shot up 31%. Hard to believe when following all of the hate posts on Facebook and Twitter.

So what does all of this mean?

Psychologically, here are some insights about human behavior:

  • When someone pushes our buttons and make us angry, we react. Sometimes we erupt and kick the wall and tell the world what just happened to us in impassioned conversations online and offline. And then, in a few hours, we calm down and sometimes we start to see both sides of an issue and relax our position. But most importantly, we forget about it and focus on the next situation that pushes a button deep inside us. Think about it. Are you still boycotting a brand that made you upset 10 years ago? And do you even remember why it did?
  • Popularity and familiarity trump us all. Donald Trump always said any headline is a good headline, as people forget the bad deeds but they don’t forget your name. His name “awareness” certainly seems to have helped build his brand in many ways. And it’s true for how we vote and purchase. We go with what is familiar to us, even if we have some concerns. You hear it all of the time, “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.”
  • Consumers view brands as not just manufacturers of goods and providers of services, but as “movements.” Tom’s Shoes started this new genre of commerce with his movement to give away a pair of shoes for every shoe purchased. This promise enables him to sell shoes that cost $9 to manufacture for around $70 or more, and built his revenue to more than $20 million in just three years.

Consumers care about products and they care about your movement and they want you to take a stand and tell them about it. According to Edelman’s report, 60% of the 8,000 consumers worldwide responding to this survey believe that brands should make it easier for consumers to see what their values and positions are when they are about to make a position, even at the point of sale. Whole Foods grocers is a good example of this. Throughout their stores, they have information about recycling, how to reduce your carbon imprint; they have environmentally friendly bags, products, and engage customers in educational events that build their whole healthy self and preserve their world at the same time. It’s a movement, not just a store.

The time is coming for brands to take a stand. Social issues and political issues have become mainstream among all generations. Consumers are taking a stand about gun control, government issues and social issues; and so, too, are their kids. Look at the data above from Edelman’s 2018 brand report. You’re damned if you do (for a day or two per Nike’s stock value changes), and you’re damned if you don’t. And you’re likely damned a lot longer if you don’t take a stand, as the data shows us consumers will purchase from those that have their same values. So if you don’t’ have values and communicate those values, you end up on the neutral line and today, that just won’t cut it.

Determine the values that best reflect your brand. Are they socially, environmentally or politically oriented? What are the values your brand aligns with, what is your stand? How will you communicate your stand and, most importantly, how will you engage your customer and partner communities with these values?

In real estate? How are you supporting homeless programs in your community?

Women’s clothing retail shop? How are you empowering underprivileged women to rise above?

You get it. Now go get on it!

3 Travel Marketers Break Past ‘Fun in the Sun’

Traveling the world is a thing so many aspire to do, and usually from a young age. And that exciting and romantic notion is something travel marketers have capitalized on for decades (understandably). Who doesn’t want to market something fun, sexy and exotic? Except, as of late, some travel marketers have set down the piña coladas and brochures of smiling families to instead focus their advertising creative and brand messages on their values and politics.

Traveling the world, even your own country, is a thing so many aspire to do, and usually from a young age. From Spring Break in some sunny locale, to backpacking across Europe before heading to college or honeymooning in Southeast Asia for a few weeks, the notion of travel is exciting and romantic.

Travel Not to Escape LifeAnd that notion is something travel and hospitality marketers have capitalized on for decades (understandably). Who doesn’t want to market something fun, sexy and exotic?

Except, as of late, some travel marketers have set down the piña coladas and brochures of smiling families having fun to instead focus their advertising creative and brand messages on their values and politics.

1. Airbnb’s ‘We Accept’

https://youtu.be/5qUTYHnLz2g

I briefly mentioned this commercial from Airbnb during my “What Were They Thinking?” episode about Super Bowl LI’s ads. This 30-second short proclaims simply that no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong. “The world is more beautiful the more you accept,” it states, as faces from various cultures, ages and sexes are shown.

As a disruptor to the traditional hotel industry, you’d figure Airbnb’s ads would be more about finding that perfect, unique accommodation (a houseboat in Copenhagen, perhaps?), but in this case they remind us that our hosts (or our guests) are as much like us as they are not.

2. Hyatt’s ‘For a World of Understanding’

https://youtu.be/vOwVmRM9mIM

Like the Airbnb commercial I mentioned above, I also covered Hyatt’s ad in a recent “What Were They Thinking?” episode, applauding the hotel chain’s promotion of cross-culture connectivity. A 30-second version of this ad ran during The Academy Awards in late February, as part of its “For a World of Understanding” corporate brand campaign. As you watch the ad unfold, you see travelers who are in unfamiliar places, interacting with locals who, with a gesture of kindness, help make a connection and bridge a gap between cultures and languages. All the while, the ad is backed by Andra Day’s cover of “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” a hit originally by Dionne Warwick.

As someone who has been in another country, alone, who couldn’t really speak the language, this ad hit home for me. And like the travelers in Hyatt’s ad, I too had locals reach out and help me as needed, and to this day it’s always a part of the story I tell when I talk about travel — making connections and memories.

3. Expedia’s ‘Train’

This commercial from Expedia first aired on CNN on Jan. 20 during the presidential inauguration, and is the most politically charged of the three, in my opinion. The visuals Expedia chooses to show, from military checkpoints to raft-bound refugees and humanitarian protests, all the while ending with the message to “travel the world better.” In a time of such division, the marketer speaks of coming together globally, reminding us that we’re the key.

AdWeek spoke to Expedia about the commercial, and Vic Walia, senior director of brand marketing, had this to say:

We believe that travel has the power to transform you and shape your views of the world. We believe that the more each of us travel and peek over our neighbor’s fence, we learn that we have more in common than we have different. Our hope is that everyone can take this day to reflect on how they can connect to their neighbors across the country and around the world.

Now, if you look at the YouTube comments on these videos — and honestly, I rarely recommend that — you’ll see some people were not into the idea of these marketers sharing these messages. And maybe this causes them to lose some business from folks who believe there’s no place for politics in travel. But then you have TripAdvisor’s CEO Stephen Kaufer standing up against Trump’s first executive order on immigration (aka the “travel ban), making it very clear where they stand.

To me, travel is a means to making connections … connections across cultures, across languages and across borders. Sure, perhaps there’s a Mai Tai in there somewhere, or a little sprinkling of good-natured sightseeing, but when you travel, you’re entering someone else’s world. Be present. Be respectful. And as Airbnb, Hyatt and Expedia all show, be a connection.