If you are a heavy consumer of the net, you couldn’t have missed the Nike campaigns, the vexed Pepsi ad, or the unresolved Gillette ad.
Recently, foreign brands have launched campaigns, all geared towards activism. From gender disparity to racial discrimination, global brands are embracing activism, using their products to show support. This – the situation where a company creates awareness on socio-political ideologies, campaigning for or against them – is known as BRAND ACTIVISM.
Early this year, Maggi Nigeria was under fire for allegedly promoting gender disparity in a bid to revere the superwoman in their “She Makes A Difference” campaign. The advert which saw a woman who felt fulfilled with her life as an independent identity was criticised for romanticising the unfortunate reality of women.
The lesson learnt from their misaction is that nothing helps a campaign if it doesn’t echo the sentiments of the audience.
The closest a Nigerian brand has come to activism is Hero Lager Beer who built their brand around the events of the Civil War and its essence, so much that their logo was inspired by the Biafran flag.
Other than this, local brands pretty much meander through trends when it comes to fighting for a cause.
Police brutality, gender inequality, child abuse, sexual maltreatment, mental health are social issues that are married to the Nigerian culture but brands avoid speaking up for/against these issues. An example is the pesticide brand Sniper remaining mum despite being a popular tool for suicide in the country.
This begs the question – WHY DO NIGERIAN BRANDS SHY AWAY FROM ACTIVISM?
One may argue that neutrality is a safe place as it keeps the brand away from any form of negativity. But it’s been proven that withholding expression in the light of a social or political issue could come off as hypocritical.
There is also the argument of being “guided by the business’ core values”. While it isn’t expected that a business goes against its values, this can be easily perceived as a ruse to avoid speaking up.
Whatever the argument is, it points to a fundamental problem; that the business doesn’t have a solid brand purpose. A brand’s purpose is its reason for existing. If that can be achieved by whatever blatant product or service you offer, then the brand is superficial. While you can sustain consumer relationship with quality products, nothing beats creating an emotional connection with them.
The truth is the purpose of any brand should be to take care of its audience because when the people suffer, it will affect the business. Echoing their sentiments builds trust and enhances customer relationship.
Besides, basic CSR efforts have been proven to increase revenue significantly, especially in the long run. Brand activism is the new competitive advantage every brand should embrace!
What are your thoughts on Nigerian brands getting involved in activism?