Avoid being a political pretender.
The overwhelming ridicule of Matt Hancock’s efforts to launch his eponymous social media app raises questions on what can and cannot (or rather, what should and should not) be done in order to connect with an audience.
From quick statements like “Good marketing essentials are the same. We all are emotional beings looking for relevance” from GE’s Vice Chair Beth Comstock to entire books on the topic like “Winning the Brand Relevance War” from David A. Aaker; any marketeer can recall numerous quotes talking about the importance of brands being personally relevant, in order to better engage with their target market.
One shortcut to being relevant with consumers is tapping into whatever cultural, social or political issues are currently top of mind. However there’s a thin line between heart-warming CSR efforts, which are encouraged by over 80% of millennials, and an alienating socio-political agenda.
With politics becoming increasingly divisive (like the 52%/48% split of Brexit), brands must be careful not to land themselves in hot water. The pinnacle and infamous example of this was the Kendall Jenner Pepsi Ad; although Twitter mentions rocketed by 21,675%, sentiment plummeted as the brand was slammed for trivialising the Black Lives Matter movement.
However, that’s not to say that brands should avoid politics entirely, even if they feel they may not have ‘permission’ to talk about something. Success hinges on authenticity. The issue that’s being discussed needs to be rooted in the principles of the brand. A great example of this is Jigsaw; they “looked at the fashion industry and realised no one talks about the benefits of immigration or the debt [they] all owe to it. One of [their] products could have Mongolian wool, Turkish satin, Chinese silk and Italian buttons so [they could] really back up this message.” [Marketing Week] Importantly, the message was rooted in both the brand’s personality and within the company’s fundamental structure. Tagging a logo on the end of a grandiose political statement isn’t enough, it must be intrinsic to the brand.

Sources
https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/why-brands-getting-political/1422951
http://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2017/12/01/why-brands-shouldn-t-fake-woke-ness
https://econsultancy.com/blog/69116-how-brands-can-navigate-today-s-super-political-environment
https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/12/02/brands-dragged-divisive-politics-2016/
https://www.ama.org/publications/MarketingNews/Pages/brands-shouldnt-be-policital.aspx
Gimme! The Human Nature of Successful Marketing  – John Hallward
Brand Relevance: Making competitors irrelevant – David A. Aaker
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/jigsaw-immigration-new-campaign-celebration-british-values-style-high-street-fashion-brand-a7999256.html

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