Political campaigns

Should brands get involved in political campaigns?

Every US election grabs the world’s attention, but this one, with this particular president in the White House in the middle of a pandemic, definitely grabbed the world’s attention.

But all most of us can do is grab some popcorn, sit back and see how it all pans out next week, because that’s a decision that will be made by American citizens. In an effort to get them out and vote in what many have called the most important election in a generation, Nike rolled out an ad calling on Americans to “change the world.”

The spot, created by Wieden & Kennedy Portland, features a lineup of top athletes including basketball superstar LeBron James, tennis player Naomi Osaka and NFL’s Odell Beckham Jr. He shows how sport can be a way to escape today’s dark headlines but stresses that there are steps that can be taken now by voting. “You don’t have to be a star to have a voice” is the ad’s conclusion.

A site, promoted in the ad, has assets such as a downloadable Nike swoosh with the word “Voted” and information such as the fact that two-thirds of young people did not vote in the midterm elections in 2018. It also includes information about a partnership with ride-sharing app Lyft that allows voters to get discounted rides to vote in places like Atlanta, Memphis and Miami, where it has historically been harder to get to. go to the polls.

While there’s no endorsement from a presidential candidate, it’s fair to say that Nike’s actions in recent years have put him at odds with Donald Trump.

When quarterback Colin Kaepernick began to ‘take the knee’ during the playing of the US national anthem to protest racial injustice, while Trump derided the action, Nike doubled down on support for his star, making him the face of high-profile publicity. .

In response, the president took to his favorite outlet, Twitter, gloating that the sportswear giant was being “absolutely killed by boycotts and anger”. In this context, Nike asking people to “change the world” doesn’t sound like a message of support for the incumbent.

Meanwhile, Ben & Jerry’s has made no attempt to hide its anti-Trump sentiment. In 2018, the ice cream brand launched a flavor called “Pecan Resist” to support “groups creating a more just and equitable nation for all of us, and fighting President Trump’s regressive agenda.” He has also been a supporter of Black Lives Matter since 2016, after the police shooting of a black man in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the protests that followed.

On this side of the Atlantic, another sports star has tried his hand at political campaigning. As Manchester United star Marcus Rashford has been thwarted in his bid to get the government to fund free school meals over the holidays, brands including McDonald’s, Asda, Morrisons and the Co-op have stepped up to help this semester. While many would say feeding starving children is a humanitarian issue, it’s hard to separate it from the heat of the Westminster debate.

A look at the discussion on Twitter under McDonald’s tweet that it plans to partner with food poverty charity FareShare to provide one million meals to families in need shows that people link this decision to what they see as the government’s inaction in this area.

So should brands risk alienating consumers by getting sucked into what could be considered political campaigning? Or do these unprecedented times mean that brand leadership on societal issues is not just welcome but expected?

will be lion

Co-Director of Strategy, Bartle Bogle Hegarty London

Absolutely. Never call it politics. If it’s about getting involved in things that brands believe in and can positively influence, then yes. Look at Nike’s support for Colin Kaepernick or Heinz’s support for free school meals. Their involvement is born out of a set of beliefs and values ​​that are purposely on the people’s side and therefore inject more positive ideas into society that would not have passed through political doors. So, yes to values, no to politics. In this way, it can be a game changer.

Rani Patel-Williams

Business Partner, Livity; co-founder, #BrandShareTheMic

Is it better for brands to position themselves correctly or not at all on socio-political issues? One brand, publicly stating that it will not engage in broader societal and political issues, is Coinbase, a cryptocurrency marketplace, which states, “Wider societal issues: We don’t engage here when issues are unrelated to our core mission, as we believe impact only comes with focus.

This is a radical position to play in the current climate and somewhat flawed in my opinion. You cannot successfully exist while disengaging from larger societal issues. However, their honesty in not paying attention to these matters may suggest that they think it relieves them of any criticism, but this is not always true. We are seeing a growing consumer demand for brands to speak up and stand up for something.

Ben Walker

Co-founder, Who Wot Why

If the belief is woven into the very fabric of the brand, all employees are behind it and it’s done in a thoughtful, passionate and provocative way with the goal of positively changing the culture, then nothing’s gonna stop you either way, so go -y.

If this is a cheap attempt at relevance instead of sitting down and figuring out what you actually believe and where you fit in the grand scheme of things, then go on, try it. If it works for Nike… what could be worse?

Zaid Al-Zaidy

Co-Founder and Group Managing Director, The Beyond Collective

I suggested it to my son who just turned 13. Her age brings a wonderful blend of innocence and righteousness, sadly underpinned by an unfiltered, adult worldview. “No” is his answer.

Brands need to stick to what they know, rather than becoming political and risk alienating customers who don’t subscribe to their political views. “It could hurt business,” he says, and “so it’s a bad idea, except when it comes to telling people to vote for Biden, of course.”

John Quarry

Managing Director, Krow

Brands should get involved in political campaigns based on their score on the next quiz.

  1. Does your brand have a purpose?

    1. Of course it’s tattooed on my ass

    2. Yes, and that informs much of our thinking

    3. I think so, I just have to find it

    4. No, we didn’t make it

    5. Absolutely not, nobody cares

  2. Is environmental, social and corporate governance central to your business strategy?

    1. Of course, this guides our thinking and we measure ourselves against this

    2. Yes, and that informs much of our thinking

    3. I think so, I just have to find it

    4. No, we didn’t make it

    5. Absolutely not, nobody cares

  3. Does the brand and all of its components (employees, customers, shareholders, partners, etc.) share one or more political ideals?

    1. Of course we were born that way

    2. Yes, and that informs much of our thinking

    3. I think so, I just have to find it

    4. No, we didn’t make it

    5. Absolutely not, nobody cares

Notation: a=5, b=4, c=3, d=2 and e=1

If you got 15, then support the campaign. If you haven’t, then don’t.