Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "Consumers Expect Brand Activism - Part 2" presents some eye-popping results for brands that took steps to ingratiate their "brand stance" by targeting the hot bed issues of the day. In our last post, "Consumers Expect Brand Activism," we extolled consumer sentiment numbers that revealed how critical it is for brands to take an active role in taking a stand on socially important issues.
Today's post divulges real results of brands that incorporated their stances on the issues of the day including the resulting feedback that has now proven to be beneficial. Among the brands that appeared to have taken an initial hit according to various news outlets for their controversial ads, such as Gillette and Nike, well, not so fast…their bottom lines soared!
The Gillette Moment
Gillette took a stand to suggest that quality men can be accepted by the "MeToo" movement,. Further, the ad also suggested that the new Gillette man is the kind of man among men that the MeToo movement could embrace and accept. For clarity, the Me Too movement's cause is to expose and eradicate unfair treatment of women on a plethora of levels. Gillette took a huge risk with their "The Best Men Can Be" ad and apparently, that risk has paid off.
One of the initial questions that arose among Gillette stakeholders and brand loyalists was how this ad impacted search traffic. Insofar as search results, search volume is also another indicator of ad performance. Avoiding the infamous ROI analyses of an ad campaign's viability, i.e., the $5+ million spent on ad placement in a Super Bowl, that data will no doubt be forthcoming in months or weeks to come.
The Gillette video's impact on search traffic, according to Google Trends, focusing on the term "Gillette," spiked in the past 90 days and reached the highest in 15 years, dating back to 2004 numbers. The counter argument that some are offering is due to the elevated interest in Super Bowl activities, ads, insights and sports pundits predictions.
That said, would you believe that the term "Gillette Razor" rose to the highest traffic volume ever over the last 5 years? Not only did Gillette Razor search rise, but to a gargantuan level. If you know anything about Google Trends, search terms that rise the fastest are placed in that 100% trend line, which is where Gillette Razor search results indexed.
Nike's 31% Sales Increase
Many made an early assessment that the Nike/Colin Kaepernick ad would ultimately bring great damage to Nike, its shareholders and brand loyalists. The Nike/Kaepernick ad launched on September 3rd, and the New York Times subsequently published an article about the ad on September 10.
Nike's stock was already performing at an all-time 52 week high trajectory prior to the Kaepernick ad, however, Nike stock soared on Sept. 10th, 2018. In fact, Nike stock reached above the 20% increase mark for the first and only time in 2018 and increased to just under the 30% index mark shortly after Sept. 10th, and finished the year at the 20% percentile, with mild fluctuations throughout the fourth quarter.
How Brand Activism Is Tied to Value
The aforementioned examples of two iconic brands opting to take a stand on hot bed issues paid off for both Nike and Gillette. However, brand activism is far more impactful than brands simply taking a stand on issues, although it could offer tremendous brand visibility when they choose to do so.
However, brand activism feeds into another aspect consumers are looking for, which is brand value. You may have noticed that iconic brands are not immune from upstart brand challenges, particularly in the digital space.
For example, compare Gillette with an upstart razor blade brand competitor such as "The Dollar Shave Club." Somewhere between the fourth quarter of 2012 and into second quarter of 2017, The Dollar Shave Club indexed just under the Google Trends 75% mark (2012) and upwards to 100% index in 2017.
Therefore, brand activism could also represent an aspect of activism that also focuses on value. Brands that are able to actively generate value for consumers based on what they need to enrich their lives, weighs heavily as yet another dimension of brand activism. In other words, if you really can't tie your brand to a cause that makes sense, you probably shouldn't do it just for the sake of activism. Therefore brands should focus first and foremost on the value proposition, followed by, taking a brand stance on the issues of the day.
Understanding Ad Impact Over Time
A review of how Nike, Gillette, and The Dollar Shave Club performed from the previously stated examples should serve as a warning against succumbing to perceived initial reactions. The news reports and the social media universe were quick to lob negative response bombs in reaction to activisim from brands, particularly, those brands that do not necessarily fall on the perceived right side of the discussion.
What we have learned from the actual data compiled over time is that brands tend to fair quite well with activism and value add propositions. Many folks believed at the onset, that the Gillette and Nike ads were a bad move for both brands, however, the naysayers were wrong.
At the end of the day, branded activism ads continue to not only have a place in advertising and marketing strategies, but also can produce a long term affect for brands that do it right. Taking a stand has proven to be a great thing. Simultaneously, remaining silent in the absence of offering value that consumers are craving is like placing the brand's head in a guillotine.
Whether a brand has iconic status, or is a competitive newbie, the same brand activism principles apply. Brand activism ranges from taking a stand on issues and developing ad campaigns that speak to those issues to offering value propositions that consumers need. Sometimes, there's an opportunity to do both. Thanks for reading "Consumers Expect Brand Activism - Part 2."
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