Should your brand share its political leanings with the world? If your company wants to take a stance, there are effective ways to share your message and participate in discussions without alienating your audience. The Pepsi/Kendall Jenner “protest” ad is a great example of a political message gone wrong. On the other hand, Melville House, a small publishing company, has seen viral success from their snarky, pointed Tweets—brashly political and otherwise.
There is always a way that you can balance profitability and morality. After all, young adult Americans tend to support progressive action by brands—so if this happens to be your target market, you can benefit from speaking out. StayingSilent.Sucks, so make sure you know how to (tactfully) bring your brand into the political sphere.
1. Find the Middle Ground
“Political but neutral”—can this balance exist? Our instinct tends to be to defend the extreme sides of a political stance, though most of us can admit that there is always a gray zone. Heineken’s Worlds Apart ad demonstrates how a brand can talk politics without landing firmly on either side of the spectrum. In the ad, strangers from the political left and right sit down over a beer and learn that “there’s more that unites than divides us.”
Why this works: No one feels alienated and our heartstrings are pulled to boot. They’re admitting that there are sociopolitical tensions that affect people in real ways without throwing their weight behind either side.
2. Live Your Statement
When Audi ran a Superbowl ad promoting equal pay for women, they forgot to practice what they preach. Their entire Board of Management consists of men and about 16% of their supervisory board are women, which is lower than the already-low average (20%) for a Fortune 500 company. Furthermore, a man narrates the entire commercial. It was almost too hypocritical to be true. On the other hand, when taking a stance against President Trump’s controversial “travel ban” Starbucks pledged to hire 1,000 refugees. Their message lined up with their actions as a company.
Why this works: If you’re going to come under fire for your political stance (and you probably will), you’d better believe in it. Getting political may be controversial, but being a hypocrite is even worse. Authenticity is always best.
3. Keep Your Campaigns On-Brand
Sir Richard’s Condom Company donated 500,000 condoms to Haiti to support safe sex initiatives and to help in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS. Is this a political move? Absolutely. But it’s so on-brand. They have picked a stance that fits with who they are and what they sell. From their tagline (“Doing good never felt better”) to donating sales of specialty items to their cause, they have crafted a complete marketing message that makes sense for their brand.
Why this works: If someone is buying condoms, it can be reasonably assumed that they believe in the message of contraception and safer sex. By aligning yourself with values that already resonate with your users, you avoid alienating potential or current customers.
4. Get a .SUCKS Domain
Turn your .SUCKS domain into a big political stance, a nuanced thought piece or a donation page to support a political charity or not-for-profit. The flexibility of owning your own domain means that you can tailor the online experience to your message, even if that message changes over time. A .SUCKS domain is an effective way to attract attention, engage your audience and start the conversation you want to be having online.
Why this works: A .SUCKS domain allows you to be cool, cheeky or practical. Your custom domain can be just the thing to help you overhaul your marketing strategy. Plus, with a memorable domain extension, you can easily gain the direct traffic and word-of-mouth popularity that will benefit your cause.
InsincereBranding.Sucks, so make sure that whatever you do is earnest, topical and in your own voice and style. If you keep these tips in mind, you can feel good about getting political in a way that strengthens your brand instead of crippling it.
A .SUCKS domain might just be the missing tool in your toolkit. Help your brand get political: join the conversation today.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / John Gomez, Shutterstock / OlegDoroshin, Shutterstock / John Gomez