This week, the Cone and Porter Novelli team was on the ground at SXSW – partaking in the sights, sounds and sessions all focused on driving the conversation in problem-solving around tech, entertainment and culture.
While 2017 was the year companies stood up for social justice issues, 2018 will be regarded as the year companies took action.
Last week, Corona brands announced it will trial 100 percent plastic-free six pack rings. The initiative will start in Tulum, Mexico, at the beginning of the year and expand to the U.K. by 2020. Corona is the first global beer brand to announce the use of sustainable six-pack rings.
In a 2016 report, UPS* and GreenBiz found awareness of circular economy was not only on the rise, but a majority of companies (86%) believed circular economy principles would be important to their organization in the next two years. And the data has proved to be accurate: we’ve seen many examples of companies implementing circular economy principles, from Vodafone’s New Every Year/Red Hot buy-back program to Reformation clothing’s new partnership with thredUp to produce new markets for secondhand clothing. The newest example creates a first-of-its kind engine fuel that not only recaptures industrial waste, but also opens new possibilities for the future of sustainable fuels.
There are over three million farmers in the U.S. and 30 percent of them are women. However, female farmers don’t always get the credit they deserve. This year, to celebrate Women’s Equality Day on August 26, one agricultural cooperative is breaking into the music industry and shining a spotlight on the oftentimes overlooked women who make the dairy industry successful.
Companies looking for more than a short-term return are embracing purpose as a business strategy, not an add-on to business as usual. And the benefits are manifold. Cone Communications recently conducted research to dig deep into what Americans think about the relationship between companies and purpose.
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.
June is a meaningful time for the LGBTQ+ community. What started as a day to honor a significant catalyst for the gay rights movement — the 1969 Stonewall Riots — has expanded to a whole month of reflection, education and celebration. With rainbow-adorned cities around the world hosting a number of events and parades to celebrate the community, Pride Month is an important moment in time to recognize progress made and acknowledge work that still needs to be done. And, with nearly two-thirds of consumers wanting to see companies address LGBTQ+ rights, more brands are looking to Pride Month as a way to join in the conversation and demonstrate support for LGBTQ+ causes in a more visible way.
The topic of immigration proved to be a hot-button issue in early 2017 when protests broke out at airports across the country decrying the Muslim Ban. This week, the immigration policy has once again dominated the media and divided the country as stories and images of families begin separated at the U.S.-Mexico border surfaced. However, despite the controversy, brands were prepared to take a vocal stand and support the #FamiliesBelongTogether outcry in a variety of ways that align with their company values and missions:
Recently, the world witnessed the power and determination of Gen Z after they inspired over 1.2 million people in over 450 rallies in the U.S. (not to mention countless rallies worldwide) to march for gun control. Despite their young age, this generation is concerned about the state of our world, and 94 percent feel that companies should step up to address social and environmental issues. Now, one brand is harnessing this empowered group’s engagement to advocate for a variety of issues that matter most to them.
Brands and organizations shared aspirational and inspirational messages and stories throughout the week – from Vancouver’s City Manager Sadhu Johnston who explained how Vancouver plans to be greenest city in the world by 2020 to REI’s ambition to awaken a lifelong love of the outdoors for all. Here are four ideas – some big and some small – that stood out to us last week:
We are pleased to share the newly released 2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study. The study, examining consumer expectations and behaviors toward companies that lead with Purpose, finds Purpose-driven brands can build stronger emotional connections with consumers that go far beyond a transactional relationship.
The evolution of responsible business has yet again taken an exciting turn as we encounter a perfect storm. Due to omnipresent social media, an absence of government leadership on critical social and environmental issues, and near-unprecedented levels of activism across demographics, social consciousness is at an all-time high. And consumers expect companies to have a more meaningful reason for being, beyond the products they create.
Texting while driving is still a major cause of car accidents around the world. In fact, drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident when texting. Earlier this year Sweden passed a law making it illegal to drive with a phone in your hand, hoping to improve those staggering statistics – however they saw no change. To drive home the dangers of texting while driving, Volkswagen has created a silent yet persistent reminder for drivers.
Last week marked the 2018 National Public Health Week (NPHW), hosted by the American Public Health Association (APHA). Under the theme Healthiest Nation 2030: Changing Our Future Together, organizations nationwide shone a spotlight on issues most impacting Americans right now and affecting the wellbeing of the nation – from mental health to preventable diseases, environmental health, violence and health equality.
Recently, brands have begun to reassess their products or services to promote acceptance and inclusion – creating accessible card games for colorblind players and supporting rock climbing para-athletes. The National Autistic Society even used VR to show individuals how chaotic a simple shopping experience can be for children with autism, inspiring empathy and understanding from shoppers. Now, as more companies focus on inclusivity, the NBA is acknowledging its autistic fans – evolving empathy into action.
February is Black History Month, and many companies celebrated the month by hosting events and highlighting African American employees and icons that have inspired us and shaped history. Yet, nearly two months after the close of Black History Month, Spotify has announced that "Black History Is Happening Now.” The streaming service is debuting a multi-approach effort aimed at challenging the limited timeframe celebrating the achievements of black creators and instead encouraging their creativity year-round.
After sparking a national anti-gun violence movement, the Stoneman Douglas student group #NeverAgain is preparing to once again push for stricter gun laws with a nationwide march, led by the newest generation of activist consumers: Gen Z. This Saturday, over 1 million people are expected to descend on Washington, D.C. for the March for Our Lives, advocating for changes to gun regulations and school safety, with “sibling marches” expected to take place across the country and world. As students, parents, teachers and allies prepare for the demonstration this weekend, several businesses have taken a stance to show their support:
This week, individuals, executives and world figureheads convened in Austin for SXSW Interactive – a mammoth event where leaders shared ideas, solutions, innovations and a positive outlook for the future.
As International Women’s Day (IWD) continues to grow in momentum year over year, so too does company involvement. While in the past, many campaigns were short-lived or focused on more narrow issues like self-esteem and confidence, the conversation – and resulting programs – are shifting. Over the past year, movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp have evolved the dialogue, prompting brands to take on weightier elements of women’s rights. This year’s #PressForChange theme encouraged brands to forgo flashy campaigns and instead focus on creating programs that can make a lasting impact. As company involvement continues to increase, we’re sharing the efforts that pushed for lasting progress, those that played it safe and some which missed the meaning of the movement: