To post or not to post, to take a stance or not take a stance? We live in a dynamic, ever changing environment that is influenced by many factors, including brands. Our opinions, feelings, and positions shape us; should they shape brands?
As a Public Relations professional and outspoken individual, this question is very important to me. Looking at a particular social issue, here are some examples that help answer the question.
To support the 2015 Supreme Court decision of marriage equality, #LoveWins was celebrated across many brands. These brands include: Visa, Game of Thrones, UNIQLO, Macy’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Kellogg’s, Jell-O, Google, Mentos, Maytag, Cheerio’s, Levi’s, Absolut vodka, Delta, Coca – Cola, and more. To be clear, none of what these brands did was courageous, daring, or special.
The Huffington Post reported that 379 companies urged the Supreme Court to support marriage equality. I believe these 379 brands assessed the situation and their demographic and learned that this was a low risk opportunity to take a stance on. What about those brands that are the trendsetters of the conversation? What makes them post? What makes them take that risk?
Three years earlier, Oreo was one of the first brands to cause controversy in showing support for a gay cause. They posted a rainbow-stuffed cookie on Facebook in support of the annual Pride events. While over 157,000 people liked it, the post also caused outcries of boycotting the famous cookie.
As a brand, I think you must weigh the pros and cons and recognize the consequences in taking a stance. Consider the demographic you want to attract. Oreo posted for their majority of followers who are also in support of gay pride. In my view, what was important to consumers from this post is that Oreo shared some of their values.
With just one opinionated Facebook post, the brand was able to help shape who they are and what Oreo stands for. I would argue, pushed the brand to be more purposeful and mission focused instead of just about the product they sell. What excites me is the brand was big enough to take the risk and was on the right side of history. Also, it gets way better press! Who knew a rainbow cookie could spark that much conversation?
So, to post or not to post? What are you trying to communicate to your audience? What mission are you driving and is this post in line? Is your brand stable enough and big enough to take the risk? Is the brand comfortable with any negative backlash and ready to respond? And regardless of whether you decide to post or not, don’t waver on your decision.