In August, Nabisco’s famed Barnum Animal crackers got a refresh – after 116 years, the company freed the animals from their cages and opted to show them roaming free instead. Animal rights groups who oppose the confinement of animals for entertainment saw the redesign as a big win. This is just the most recent example of how social impact and consumer advocacy can shape packaging and design.
As we edge closer to the U.S. midterm elections, many are turning their thoughts to how to encourage more Americans to exercise their right to vote. This Tuesday marked the seventh annual National Voter Registration Day to raise awareness for the upcoming vote and encourage Americans to register before local deadlines. With the support of individuals, nonprofits and companies, #NationalVoterRegistrationDay became the number one trending topic on Twitter on Tuesday. Here’s a snapshot of how companies are “rocking the vote” this year:
As more employees look to work at organizations that embed Purpose at their core, employee engagement around social and environmental initiatives becomes even more critical for leading brands. In fact, 71 percent of employees say they want their company to provide opportunities for them to help make a positive impact. In response, companies are designing new approaches to engagement, from challenging employees to achieve sustainability goals to co-creating campaigns around employee passion areas.
The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been thrust into a national debate and have made it clear that thoughts and prayers are not enough – they are demanding action from politicians, schools, the NRA and even businesses. We have seen this highly-politicized and divisive issue in the news before, but this time is different. Those students can’t be ignored. Companies are increasingly more comfortable standing up for and speaking out on hot button issues that have dominated the news over the last year.
Over the past few months, women’s equality has gone viral. A conversation that began with the Women’s March has evolved into movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, taking Twitter by storm and illustrating the magnitude of the issue. Feminism was even named the 2017 word of the year by Merriam-Webster. With the groundswell of support, there is no denying that now is the time to bring women’s equality to the forefront. Recently, one brand chose a moment in time that was already positioned to shine a spotlight on the issue – the Golden Globes and the #WhyIWearBlack campaign – to lend its support to an industry where women’s achievements are still overlooked.
Although it may seem counterintuitive for a company to discourage consumers from buying its products, we have seen this strategy work in brands’ favors in the past – Patagonia’s “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign resulted in an overwhelming positive response from consumers who took extra time to learn about the brand’s mission before making a purchase. Now, one company with a notoriously controversial product is attempting to pivot its business model to be more socially responsible – and marketing directly to consumers during this transition.
Over the years, Paul Polman has been one of the most vocal, determined and passionate advocates for Purpose in business. As he famously said at the launch of Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan: “We cannot choose between [economic] growth and sustainability – we must have both,” and his dedication ...
Last week, in response to President Trump’s decision to scale back Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, outdoor retail brand and sustainability leader Patagonia in turn announced it would be suing the President, a definitively bold move — even for the likes of the brand that brought us “Don’t Buy This Jacket” and “100% for the Planet.”
Patagonia is no stranger to bold Purpose marketing campaigns. From “Don’t Buy this Jacket” to “100% for the Planet,” this is a brand that is not afraid to take a risk to stand up for what it believes in. This week, we saw the company take its boldest stance yet, not only directly calling out the President of the United States for “an illegal move” but also announcing it will sue the administration. Yet, for those who track the company, this endeavor should not come as a huge surprise – in fact, the latest announcement is just the next phase of a multi-year consumer engagement campaign, calling on its informed, loyal consumer base for support.
As consumers spend more time on their phones, many organizations have begun brainstorming ways to engage them to do good on these compact, yet powerful machines. UNICEF tapped into the “always connected” stigma and created the wildly successful Tap Project app, which garnered over 2.6 million users and raised $1.6 million for kids in need of safe drinking water. More recently, one brand has come up with an even simpler ask in order to harness the power of smartphones and conscious consumers to support a cause.
What started with a march in 1987 has continued to grow in momentum as individuals ban together to celebrate coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) – or as an ally. National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11), created by the Human Rights Campaign, works to promote a safe world for LGBTQ individuals to live truthfully and openly. Now, one brand is harnessing its global platform and network of influencers to spread that message of openness and acceptance far and wide.
This week, Cone headed to the MGM National Harbor in Maryland to participate in this year's COMMIT!Forum – a two day conference focused onthe role of the corporate responsibility practitioner as companies aim to make their voices heard. The theme of the conference was "Brands Taking Stands" – certainly apropos given today's business and political environment. As the conference wraps, we're leaving with a renewed energy and commitment to the field but also a few important takeaways.
Yesterday was International Day of the Girl, a day the United Nations declared a holiday five years ago to “highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.”
It’s been over three weeks since Hurricane Maria made landfall, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. As the tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, the storm devastated Puerto Rico, completely destroying the island's power grid and leaving all 3.4 million residents without electricity. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz estimates that some areas will remain without power for four to six months. As with many natural disasters, relief efforts are concentrated on the first few weeks after the disaster, but one company has prepped a long-term relief plan to ensure the victims of Hurricane Maria are not left abandoned in the weeks – and months – to come.
As companies continue to campaign for acceptance, many have begun to reflect on their customer bases to ensure that all fans are acknowledged. Some brands have begun portraying non-traditional individuals in their ads, while others have created moments-in-time to encourage inclusivity. While these campaigns spark conversation, one brand is focused on more than raising awareness - it innovated its product to reach a broader audience.
Women’s Equality Day (August 26) marked 97 years since women in the United States were granted the right to vote. But when it comes to establishing a holiday to commemorate the elimination of our gender wage gap, the outlook is bleak.
Over the past few years, industry-leader REI has sparked movements focused on getting people outside during Black Friday and advancing gender equality in the outdoors through campaigns like #OptOutside and Force of Nature. Now, another outdoor company is gearing up to add a new dimension to level nature’s playing field.
Every year, approximately 3.6 million Americans miss or delay medical appointments because they don’t have access to reliable transportation. Minorities, people with low incomes, and those with chronic illnesses are affected disproportionately. These cancelations not only affect the individual missing their appointment - leading to untreated symptoms - but can also cause longer wait times and rushed appointments for other patients. In an effort to address the issue, two rideshare companies are using their assets to provide reliable transportation to those in need.
Today, consumers increasingly expect companies to address social justice issues, with nearly nine-in-ten (87%) citing racial equality as an issue they would like companies to prioritize. Some companies have tried to shed light on the topic, but with little understanding of the community, their efforts backfired. However, one company with a longstanding history of support for racial equality recently dared to share a bold message.
Companies have been creating innovative products out of waste for years; and with each material advancement, the envelope is pushed further with more integrated, holistic communications campaigns. However, many of these previous campaigns skirted away from the gritty aspect of waste. Now, one fashion brand is taking a nontraditional approach to creating beauty out of waste.