Brands for Social Good
BY: Bernardine Ruiz • May 20, 2019
With so many social and political issues happening today, more and more individuals and organizations are taking a stand. Digital and social media have given people the venue to express their opinion and debate with one another and even their leaders and other concerned parties. And it’s not just individuals, politicians, civil groups and leaders, and non-governmental organizations that are getting involved in the conversation. More and more brands and companies have been taking on the social agenda.
Many companies already practice their corporate social responsibility (CSR) in many ways – conducting medical, livelihood, educational missions with poor communities, partnering with non-governmental organizations, helping groups affected by their operations, and more. Companies then promote these activities through press releases, newsletters, and mainstream media publications.
While these are good work being done by companies, there are criticisms of this practice. Some say these are self-serving as companies use social work mainly to make a good image of themselves among their consumers as opposed to real and genuine concern towards their mission and social responsibility. Aside from this, even consumers are oftentimes suspicious and doubtful of the real intentions of companies as they know that ultimately, CSR still contributes to the bottom line. Furthermore, consumers do not want to engage with the company’s social efforts even if these are done with the best intentions.
Yet, brands are now finding ways to seamlessly fit and show their purpose for social good in their advertising and marketing campaigns. Several brands have been able to engage consumers through ads showing their values and social work. These ads did more than just pull on heart strings; these created conversations around the brand and the issue it stood for.
The social good put forth by brands ranged from simple messages of bringing happiness to understanding and welcoming people with disabilities to spreading awareness and raising funds for environmental efforts to many more social issues.
Many advertising and marketing leaders have also cited the need for brands to take part in social conversations. The millennial consumers of today are driven by passion and purpose as well as the need to do good. Millennials identify with and engage more with brands and companies they know have a specific and genuine purpose. Aside from buying and consuming products and services from these companies, they also consider them as good employers. The millnenial work force wants to find purpose in what they do and will contribute their skills and capabilities to companies and organizations they know will make good use of their abilities to do good.
Furthermore, brands and companies are being encouraged more and more to participate in society issues as they are big players in any environment. Companies hire people and make sure they provide good employment and safe working environments, they affect communities especially where they put up their manufacturing facilities, they provide goods and services that should benefit the everyday lives of their consumers, and many more. They are at the forefront of technology, and they continue to innovate not just to get ahead of the competition but to continue making developments for the use of future generations. They are made to be held responsible and accountable for the use of scarce environmental resources. With a volatile and issue-ridden government and society, companies should get involved in making a stand in important conversations.
Still, these industry leaders themselves warn against the use of social good for self-serving purposes, to just have CSR campaigns to be able to say the company has been doing good. Brands and companies who are not genuine and authentic in their mission will be found out quickly, especially on digital and social media. Consumers are already wary of these campaigns, and they can already identify whether the brands’ messages are within their values or not. On the more positive note, many brands, big and small, have been able to inspire consumers with genuine campaigns of their purpose, values, and mission. There is no shortage of brands and companies wanting to do authentic social good. The following are some examples of recent excellent and effective CSR campaigns.
1. Breeze Philippines’ The Good Experiment
The global positioning of Breeze is that dirt brings about something good. The brand encourages consumers, especially mothers, to “get dirty” as this means that they and their children get to enjoy the outdoors and more experiences. Breeze tells moms that something good can actually come out of dirt and dirty clothes. Ultimately, it shows that the brand is an effective detergent because it can remove any kind of stains from white clothes.
In the Philippines, the brand was faced with a challenge on how to communicate the global messaging to its local consumers. Filipino moms hate dirty clothes with a passion. Aside from the health hazards of their kids getting in contact with dirt and the difficulty of washing clothes, moms are afraid of being labeled as careless or “pabaya”. Mothers believe that dirty clothes reflect on them and their ability to care for their family. So Breeze Philippines decided to do “The Good Experiment”. They set up hidden cameras to record the reactions of mothers when they first see their kids come out of school wearing dirty clothes. As expected, the mothers showed worry and disappointment, scolding their children on why they went against their parent’s constant reminders of staying clean. The ad went on to show that the children actually went out of their way to help the school gardener who was having trouble lifting a wheelbarrow full of plants and soil. Asked why the children helped the gardener, they said it was the right thing to do, that their parents have taught them how to be helpful, and that they knew their moms would understand if they were honest and if they knew the real reason why they got dirt on their clothes. After watching the videos of their kids displayed on a screen at the school’s receiving area, the moms grew teary-eyed, hugged their children, and thanked them for being helpful.
The ad went on to receive positive feedback and acclaims from consumers, parents, and even local and international media. It also proved to be an award-winning campaign in different award-giving bodies in the Philippines and abroad.
The ad was closely linked to the brand’s belief and purpose as well as the actual use of the product which made it highly effective and affective for its market.
See the ad at Breeze Philippines’ YouTube Channel.
2. McDonald’s’ The Boy Who Loves to Study and Breakfast Surprise
McDonald’s is a fast-food company and brand known for showcasing different moments that happen within its restaurants. From family meet-ups to break-ups and make-ups to happy normal moments, every consumer that has entered McDonald’s has experienced something special when they sat down to eat. The brand capitalized on these stories and made them a part of their company culture and purpose which is to provide an environment for important life moments to happen.
The Boy Who Loves to Study campaign actually started from a Facebook post uploaded by a college student in Cebu. Her photo showed a poor young boy reading and studying under the glow of the lights of a McDonald’s branch. The post went viral and many people applauded the boy’s persistence on studying while many others wanted to find him and help out and encouraged McDonald’s to do the same. The brand saw the opportunity to help out and sought the boy. McDonald’s then offered him a scholarship until he graduates from college. The brand team arranged a surprise meet-up between the boy and the student who posted the photo, and they had a warm reunion together. All of these moments were recorded on video by the brand team and uploaded on social media. Many consumers gave their positive feedback and thanked McDonald’s for seizing the opportunity to help the boy.
The second case was an activation done by the brand to uplift the spirits of stressed commuters and motorists in Metro Manila. McDonald’s recognized the opportunity for a sampling activation to get elevated to a brand activation which can garner positive engagement with the brand. On one Monday, motorists and consumers exiting from the North Luzon Expressway and South Luzon Expressway were surprised with breakfast sandwiches from McDonald’s right at the toll gates. Many were delighted and excited with the gesture and social media was flooded with photos from commuters who received the food.
The two cases were simple yet it gave a humanising and inspiring image to and from the brand. Consumers knew that actual people were behind McDonald’s and that they are actually committed to providing good food to accompany the small and big moments that happen every day.
See the case video at McDonald’s Philippines YouTube Channel.
3. Globe Telecom’s Rogue One, A Star Wars Story movie partnership
What seemed to have started from a simple campaign brief became a much-talked-about and award-winning ad. Globe Telecom secured a partnership with a highly anticipated spin-off movie from the Star Wars series released late 2016. The brand could have done a relatively simple promotion of the movie but decided to do a compelling story, entitled “#CreateCourage – Rogue One, A Star Wars Story” instead. The ad started with a student wearing a Stormtrooper mask accompanied by her older brother as they went to school. The girl made the recognizable Darth Vader stance when he uses the Force as she signalled to stop traffic while helping a Lola cross the street. Other scenes showed fun moments when she and her brother played together while she continued to wear the Stormtrooper mask. When she finally arrived in school, her classmates and teacher looked at her differently. The camera pans to the brother as he made a worried face. The scene faded and went back to the sister and brother as they went to school. As the girl entered the classroom, she lifted her helmet to reveal a shocked expression as it was also revealed that she’s wearing oxygen tubes from her nose. She found her classmates wearing Stormtrooper masks as they went over to hug her and cheer her up. The ad simply ended with a Globe and Star Wars end tag.
Social media was again set ablaze with the simple message the ad gave and elevated the movie partnership to another level. The ad made noise not only for the Star Wars movie but also the values that were shown in the video. Globe further capitalised on the positive feedback by opening charity lines for those who want to help the Philippine General Hospital’s Cancer Ward. The brand was able to raise P1M for the beneficiary and also gave other donations. Imagine giving a brand money to donate to charity. But Globe made such a compelling story to get people to be concerned about children with cancer and diseases.
See the ad at the GlobePH YouTube Channel.
4. ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation’s Dirty Watercolor
While ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation is the broadcast giant’s charitable arm, it deserves a mention as a “brand” as it still stands for its mother company. The brand has many charitable works from environmental protection to social work. To raise awareness on the pollution of Metro Manila’s many waterways, they tapped artists and in cooperation with the Taguig City local government to make artworks out of these waters.
The foundation collected water samples from the Tullahan River, Taguig Estuary, Cainta Creek, and others which will be used to mix the watercolour to be used in the artworks. Each water source had different hues – from black to dark brown to sepia. Artists then took these and painted sceneries of riverbanks and humans making use of the water in their daily lives.
ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation then put these artworks up for auction, the proceeds of which were used for cleaning and rehabilitating said waterways. The ad proved to be effective and gained praise for the ingenuity the brand team did to put their message across.
See the case video at ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation Inc.’s YouTube Channel.
5. 7-Eleven’s Gulpihan
Before the rise of digital and social media, brands most of the time spoke for consumers’ opinions, whether these be their needs and experience of the product or other societal agenda. Because of social media, today, more and more consumers are able to voice their own opinions and feedback at a pace never imagined before. Instead of being “representatives”, brand should make better use of their campaigns and communication channels to facilitate conversation around their products and services and even on issues that affect the lives of their consumers.
7-Eleven Philippines made use of the Facebook Events feature to first promote its Gulpihan campaign. Set during the 2016 Elections, the convenience store brand printed special Gulp cups featuring the presidential candidates. Consumers can then “cast their vote” by choosing a cup and having their choice tallied by the store. Aside from engaging and encouraging consumers to buy more from 7-Eleven, the campaign produced more conversations about an important issue in the lives of Filipinos. All the while, 7-Eleven retained its position as a facilitator and never as someone who pushes for a certain candidate. The campaign brought more sales and gave a valuable image to the brand.
See the case video at MullenLowe Philippines’ YouTube Channel. It is already very evident that many brands are seeking not only to fulfil their corporate social responsibility but also engage their consumers to identify with their values and to facilitate conversations around important issues in society. More than being companies for profit, brands are now taking on the role of true responsible citizens.