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B2B Marketing – Should Brands Take Stands?

When I first read Scott Goodson’s article The Age of Uprising, Brand Movement, And Ad Backlashes, it made my stomach hurt.  It sounded so rash to me.

Upon re-reading I don’t have a firm opinion on do I accept or reject this theory.  I just have a bunch of questions and concerns.

Do we want to make purchase decisions based on politics or activism?  I would rather not.  But I realize that if I had information about company’s behavior or association that I found reprehensible – it would sway my buying decision.

But let’s say that a brand selects a movement with which to associate and it has the veneer of feeling good.  But the decision was made in order to profit rather than a conviction that the movement is right or beneficial. Does it bother you that the association may have more to do with profit than belief?  If the brand does demographics on its market and finds out that customers overwhelmingly have strong feelings about a movement – and then supports that movement not out of sincerity but calculation – what would your emotional connection to the brand be strengthened?

I know that much lip service is given to ‘authenticity’ – what I don’t know is if superficiality and opportunism is more palatable if it falls in line with (and somehow profits) our causes.

Moving to the next question: would you consider it fair to have a hiring decision made based on your alignment with a movement or cause versus your ability to do the job?  I realize that considering whether an individual would fit the culture of a company is going to influence a hiring decision, but I don’t like the idea of being asked questions about my stance on environment, reproductive issues, or politics – whatever movement or cause the company has designated to attach its brand to.

On the other hand, if I was looking for a job and a prospective employer was known for aligning with a cause or movement that was contrary to my beliefs, I’d probably avoid that company.

Which brings up another question, is alignment with a cause or movement healthy for a company when it comes to competing for talent?

And, what happens when a cause or movement suddenly has controversy?  The company is suddenly dealing with public relations issues that are once removed but nevertheless distracting and draining on its resources.

I don’t have any answers.  And Goodson is right: my first reaction would be stay away!  Do you feel differently?  Do you see something I’ve missed?  What are your questions?

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