BrandSutra: What does the brand you believe in, believe in?

Consumers are turning to brands that sell hope to solve problems

Anupama Ramaswamy | Updated on: Saturday, November 21, 2020, 11:26 AM IST

A video grab of Project Streedhan | #InvestInYourImmunity |
A video grab of Project Streedhan | #InvestInYourImmunity |

We all keep hearing about how brands need to get real. To be in touch with what's happening out there with their campaigns. Some call these 'social campaigns.' I prefer calling them ads which talk about real issues. Real issues stemming from country, culture, beliefs and needs.

Now, essentially there are different types of 'campaigns for social good.' The first type uses the message to take a social stand while promoting products or services. The second is strongly focused on driving awareness for a real cause or issue.

Brands taking a stand are creating more impact in people's minds. Beyond changing perceptions, this has been effective in cultivating discussions and highlighting matters which truly deserve attention, eventually inspiring the consumer to take some kind of action.

In fact, taking a stand can have all kinds of effects. It can unite people and at times divide them. Brands need to be a bit cognizant about the fact that divisive topics are not always successful, and vice versa.

Another way for brands to gauge how their target audience will react is by identifying which issues matter most to them. This is where social listening tools can help provide the insight they need to work with, enabling them to join the conversation, raise awareness and influence in a meaningful way.

Whether a brand is going to drive social change, or simply watch it go by, is up to itself. Their message must provide intrinsic value by inspiring, educating or enlightening the audience on why the issue is important to both the audience and the brand itself.

On one hand, we see ads from Tanishq being trolled, on the other we see ads like Not Just A Cadbury Ad and Facebook's Pooja Didi being applauded.

For social good

A successful 'for social good' campaign goes far beyond raising product awareness. It can increase customer loyalty, drive engagement and bring in more millennial consideration. The rise of the Internet and social media platforms may also be a cause for this new social motive display in brand culture.

Social media has given everybody the power to react. I call it the 'mob' mentality. We, the consumers, have become extremely reactive and opinionated. Anyone with a computer, smartphone and a social media account has the ability and power to broadcast his or her voice and opinion. And that is not necessarily appreciation or love.

Today's consumers are belief-driven. Unlike traditional consumers, who prioritise price or convenience, they want to see brands that can improve the world while also making a profit. Brands espousing social causes are growing by leaps and bounds and winning a greater share of the pie. Those that sell hope to solve problems are the ones consumers are turning to, and companies which reward that faith will see a leap in their popularity.

Aside from these, there are brands that are solely embracing purpose. They take on generally popular and uncontroversial issues, and do not make any kind of politically painted statements. They incorporate these issues in an advertising campaign, or implement them as an overall brand strategy.

A good example of this is the 'Always Like a Girl' campaign which promotes confidence in young girls, or Dove's 'Real Beauty'campaign which celebrates beauty in all forms, or 'Ariel - Share The Load', which makes us aware about gender equality issues.


Lastly, there are campaigns which pick real issues, not relating them to any product as such. These issues could be environmental or social or cultural. Examples of such ads are 'Separate The Garbage', 'Streedhan', 'Chotu Ka Childhood' and 'Sindoor Khela', each pointing out a relevant topic or evil prevalent in our society, and asking you to help bring about change.


Whichever path a brand chooses, it needs to be authentic and believable more than anything else. The intent is most important; everything else will follow.

(The author is Managing Partner & National Creative Director, Dentsu Impact)

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Published on: Saturday, November 21, 2020, 12:54 AM IST