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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.
Last week, more than 21,000 marketing, sales and communications professionals from around the world gathered at Hubspot’s INBOUND 2017 conference in Boston to learn, network and be inspired. And inspired we were.
At a time when most marketers are turning to digital in increasing numbers, creating fun and interactive ads to engage consumers and drive sales, one company chose to go back to basics. Recently, one outdoor brand took to an age-old marketing channel with a disruptive approach – garnering attention while driving behavior change.
September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, an opportunity for society to recognize the families affected by childhood cancer and the researchers, doctors, hospitals working fervently to treat them. But, more importantly, September is an opportunity for companies to take a stand and potentially save lives by supporting research into better cures and treatments.
Stunts have long been in marketers’ playbooks as a way to grab consumers’ attention and highlight a specific product or service. Recently however, we’ve seen an influx of cause-related stunts– from 2 Chainz’s pink Trap House to KIND’s giant pile of sugar in downtown New York City. This week, New Yorkers witnessed a stunt, which took advantage of the large city stage and a particular moment in time, bringing an underrepresented issue to light and sparking conversation with a broad audience.
Gen Z has gotten a bad rap. Yes – their faces may be glued to their smartphones, but don’t mistake that for a disinterest in what’s happening in the world around them. This generation is a force to be reckoned with – using their digital devices to spread social and environmental messages far and wide. But they’re not going it alone – they expect companies to be their partners in change. Companies: it’s time to enlist Gen Z to share your CSR message.
By now, most of the 20.4 million students attending American colleges and universities this fall have returned to school. For many, going to class and socializing with friends are not the only things on their mind; many are wondering how they are going to pay for their education.
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.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall a week ago but the damage it leaves behind will not dissipate so quickly. The storm is a one-in-1,000 year rain event, dumping 24.5 trillion gallons of rain and displacing countless individuals in its wake. As relief workers begin to grapple with the scale of the disaster, the cry for help is urgent and widespread. This call extends to companies who are stepping up by providing money, in-kind donations and solutions.
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.
Many fast food companies have started to address consumers’ desires to eat more consciously – and Panera has been on the frontlines of helping consumers make better dining choices. What started with the “No No List” has evolved into a series of commitments to take ‘clean eating’ mainstream. And the café chain isn’t stopping anytime soon. The next step in the menu cleanup process is focused on informing consumers about Panera’s beverage options with each sip they take.
In the lead-up to National Honey Bee Day (August 19), I was inspired to take a look at brands’ recent efforts to ensure the health and stability of our tiny pollinator friends. In the past few years, we have seen a host of organizations garnering attention for the issue, first with research and later, amped-up efforts with highly visible, consumer-facing campaigns to bridge the awareness gap.
Emotional storytelling can be a powerful tool to tell a story, especially when it comes to causes that resonate with the human experience. Sharing stories like these with consumers and the media can prove to be a challenge – it’s a cluttered space with endless content being shared across various channels, from social media to online to print. Breaking through can be difficult, but once you bring together the right assets, a compelling call to action, and consistently keep the cause at the forefront, your news will spread through the internet faster than you can say “feel good story.”
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.
In the last several years, the meal kit industry has grown exponentially with the rise of companies like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Plated and PeachDish (to name just a few). Meal kits are big business – a $1.5 billion industry projected to grow. That’s a lot of cardboard, plastic and freezer gel. However, recent news and industry temperature checks show I might not be the only one hitting pause on the weekly delivery.
In 2016, we saw nontraditional sustainability reports gain traction with Patagonia's report, which swapped the text-heavy format for an image-laden report focusing on action and the outdoors. But the stand-out activation was Heineken’s video featuring a Dutch rapper and spoken word artist who delivered the report stats in a concise and compelling way. This year, the brewing company is taking an even more interactive approach – serving up data in a fun and entertaining way.
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.
With over 700 million users, Instagram has quickly become the go-to platform for younger audiences. And, as the social media channel grows and builds out its marketing abilities, brands are beginning their foray into the world of Instagram advertising. Recently, one brand took an entirely new approach, harnessing the platform to drive home a long-form social impact message on a short-form channel.
Recently, Cone Communications attended the Specialty Food Association’s Summer Fancy Food Show, the largest specialty food industry trade event in North America, to get a look at the latest innovations from food companies around the world. The event brought together more than 2,600 exhibitors from around the globe who featured more than 180,000 specialty food and beverage products.
As summer heats up, many Americans take this time to enjoy the glories of nature by visiting our nation’s vast National Parks system. Yet, those same national treasures are in peril due to proposed National Parks Service budget cuts. As discussions on the topic heat up, many companies are showing their support for the outdoors through campaigns raising money, awareness and attendance at America’s National Parks.
With 70 percent of consumers expecting companies to take a stand on social justice issues such as the refugee crisis and women’s rights, many companies have begun sharing messages of acceptance for groups facing adversity. And this year, we saw a landslide of companies show their support for the LGBTQ community in celebration of Pride Month. Now, one brand that has been flying the rainbow flag since 1994 is building on its philanthropic support and advancing rhetoric around the issue to increase awareness.
In recent years, the refugee crisis has expanded to unprecedented levels, with nearly 1 in 100 people worldwide displaced from their homes. Amidst a widespread perception of federal inaction, companies and NGOs have seen an increasing demand from consumers to step up and do their part to make a difference. In fact, more than two-thirds of consumers cited immigration as a top priority for companies to take the lead on.
Pride Month is a time when a historically marginalized community’s voice takes center stage, in the hopes of finding common ground with opposition, promoting educated dialogue and celebrating progress. This Pride Month, several companies are standing out by supporting the LGBTQ community in a genuine way. Here are four tips to authentically take part in the conversation:
An estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the oceans each year, making ocean trash a serious environmental threat to the ecosystem and the many islands that depend on pristine beaches to boost tourism. In the past, organizations have combated the issue by educating tourists and individuals who feel removed from the issue. But now, one partnership is tackling problems on the ground while also addressing the source of the issue.
Air pollution remains an unseen global killer – with nearly 6.5 million deaths a year attributed to pollution we breathe every day – that's four times the amount of people killed on the world's roads, according to The Guardian. In fact, in the U.K. alone, high levels of NO2 cause more than 60 premature deaths a day.
This week, the Cone Communications team headed out to Sustainable Brands in Detroit for four days of conversation around "Redefining the Good Life." From inspirational plenaries to tours experiencing the resurgence of Detroit, the week focused on what a new “good life” could mean – a shift from “better, faster, more” to perhaps a new definition focused on authenticity and mindful simplicity.