Advertising in the Age of Movements

We’re living in a time of movements — you just have to pick up a newspaper to know that. Depending on what day it is, you’re apt to find front-page stories of women taking to the streets in Washington, the Red Shirt teachers movement, TimesUp movement, #metoo, Students against assault weapons, and the list goes on. This is the golden era of the activist mindset, and where a top advertising agency like StrawberryFrog can come in.

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As the political season heats up, we are likely to see even more populist movements coming to the street corner of social media page near you.

For those of us in business, it may seem as if all of this is transpiring in a separate realm, well outside the corporate bubble. Unless the protesters are specifically targeting your business, it’s natural to think, “This new era of protest makes for lively news, but has nothing to do with my company or brand.”

But the new social unrest is everybody’s business, including yours and mine.

As a highly innovative top advertising agency, we at StrawberryFrog believe that the most significant marketing programmes often come through social movements, and that despite the differences between private business and society, company leaders, CEOs and CMOs can learn from how these initiators engage and mobilise the masses to institutionalise new societal norms.

Advertising and brand building is not going away anytime soon. But how companies market their brands has pivoted from traditional brand building with an emphasis on paid TV advertising (and building purpose-based brands) to a more effective and action-oriented strategy: Brand-fueled Movement Marketing instigated by only the best advertising agency.

For over twenty years we have proven what every marketer dreams of doing: catching lightning in a bottle. The moment when a brand—the product and the values it represents—catches fire and becomes more than just a product. It ignites a MASS movement, centered around passionate people who form an engaged community, driven by ideals and a purpose, something deeply personal and relevant to their lives.

We as a top advertising agency have applied the principles of societal movements to help company leaders inspire trust, action, creativity inside their companies among employees. This transforms culture inside Fortune 500 corporations more effectively than any mandate from the top could achieve. One leader who understood this well is Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra, one of India’s most powerful companies. He sparked and fueled the RISE movement, engineered by StrawberryFrog, to transform the entire global corporation, changing and focusing its culture, its operating system, and its go-to market approach.

Outside the doors of companies, brand-fueled Movement Marketing has generated scientific breakthroughs and business growth by driving passions as well as product sales.

One iconic company that understood this was Heineken, headquartered in The Netherlands. When the leadership decided to become the main sponsor of the Champion’s League, StrawberryFrog developed a brand-fueled Marketing Movement “Welcome to Champion’s Planet” where hard core football fans and even those loosely connected with the sport were invited to join “Championism.”

Yet another business case is Jim Beam, which was trailing Jack Daniels. A Cultural Movement changed that. We used our skills as a creative branding agency to ignite a movement against the patriarchy and and took a culturally relevant stand for equality, bringing the actress Mila Kunis front and center to symbolize a deep cultural shift in a conservative sector. The business results were extraordinary.

Why are movements hot now? Why does taking a stand in 2018 more often than not lead to growth? Why is this happening now? Why are brands moving away from traditional advertising agencies which some people deem obsolete, and turning towards Cultural Movements as a smarter, better approach to management and brand building?

Something significant has changed in our global culture over the past few of years. Blame it on global economic pressures, general restlessness, or the new hyper-connectivity that enables people to instantly organise around causes and hot topics.

It’s probably some combination of all of these factors, but the net result is that business leaders are now dealing with a populace that is more socially engaged, more aware of what’s going on in the world, and hungrier to get involved and be heard on various issues.

If you sell at these people they will ignore you. If you ignite a movement that they can belong to in the way that we do as the best advertising agency for brand-fueled movement marketing, they will be ignited and participate, and through that relationship they will be more inclined to buy.

We know about the mini-uprisings in recent months against brands like Liberty Mutual and Allstate and others ignited by Stoneman Douglas student David Hogg for their support of a Fox TV show. And we might say, “Well, they made bad decisions.”

But in part, their mistake was not realising that the world had changed around them. In this new world, their “customers” could easily become activists — either for or against them.

So how does a smart business respond in a time of heightened passions and greater activism? Rather than becoming more cautious in hopes of avoiding any kind of backlash, I believe brands must connect with that passion and activism somehow. If you fail to respond to this shift in the culture, you run the risk of being out of step with your customers.

Your company could end up looking like a “status quo” brand in a revolutionary world.

Better to join in the march. If uprisings and movements are happening all around, then your business needs to somehow become involved in movements — or better yet, start one of your own.

We as a top advertising agency have launched movements that tried to bring about change in schools and more responsible consumption. And as I worked on my book about movement marketing, I encountered everything from a pet food company that launched an animal welfare initiative to a shoemaker that began a worldwide movement to put shoes on poor kids’ feet.

In each case, a company rallied people around an idea that mattered, an idea on the rise in culture, enabling customers to become activists. In the process, the company demonstrated that it was engaged in people’s lives and cared about something more than just profits.

This isn’t just a new spin on old CSR programmes. It’s not about giving to a laundry list of charities. To crystallise and spark a brand movement, you must do more than make donations.

The company must become an activist itself on behalf of something it believes in — something that also matters deeply to its customers. Movements start on the inside.

For more information and cases visit StrawberryFrog.

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