According to the Advertising Association’s Advertising Pays 8 (AP8) report, one in five people feel advertising has a negative impact on society. Brands’ commitment to tackling some of society’s biggest challenges is clearly under close scrutiny.
Brands know that if they have any chance of changing public sentiment towards advertising, they need to demonstrate a commitment to responsible advertising. Today’s socially conscious consumers are looking for companies they believe in. Ones that they trust to be authentic, genuine and focused on more than just commercial gain.
That’s why Coca-Cola ditched its chief growth officer role and replaced it with a chief marketing officer. And why NatWest is busy promoting its financial education programme, Money Sense – but more on those two later.
The AP8 report also revealed that out of the £25 billion expected to be spent on advertising in 2020, £1 billion worth of media will support advertising that makes a social contribution.
Clearly, the industry has a more responsible approach to marketing front of mind, but more work needs to be done.
According to the report, mental health (63%), the environment (59%) and domestic violence and abuse (58%) are the top three areas Brits would like to see reflected more in advertising. While, homelessness and poverty (55%), healthy lifestyle (52%) and animal welfare (51%) all featured highly as well.
Consumers want to see marketers doing more to promote a harmonious society and encourage behavioural change through advertising. And it’s not just charities and NGOs they feel should be generating socially positive benefits in their advertising. All advertisers have the capacity – and the responsibility – to contribute socially.
More than half (53%) of those questioned agreed they would think more highly of any for-profit company that was trying to make a positive impact on society. Meanwhile, a third felt that advertising campaigns by for-profit companies have encouraged them to make positive changes in their lives or the lives of others. Younger consumers in particular equate a company’s efforts to positively impact society with their own purchasing decisions.
These are the kind of stats companies like Coca-Cola and NatWest know only too well.
Coke’s new CMO has got to demonstrate a strong brand purpose in order to counter growing concern about plastics, harmful ingredients and water. And it’s telling that NatWest’s first ad since its M&C Saatchi split (they’re now working with The&Partnership) focuses on a financial education scheme for kids.
Both brands know that standing up for something greater than profits is the key to success in a socially conscious market. As well as attracting customers, responsible marketing can also offer an advantage in the growing battle for talent.
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