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Responsible Advertising To The Rescue?


Responsible Advertising To The Rescue?

By Sharvari Alape

People experience ads everywhere. From sponsored ads on social media,  the in-between ads on TV to the enormous billboards on the streets. However, that does not mean they resonate with the advertisement on a level to spark an action.

Comparatively, very few campaigns over the last years have tackled specific social  issues as an approach to reach their customers. These ads were set to spark conversations about topics that needed to be addressed within the society. 

Some brands were celebrated as the “brave ones” who ventured into the risky business of making a stance, such as the  UN Women’s “The Autocomplete Truth”, Airbnb’s “We Accept” and the relatively recent, Nike’s “Believe in Something.”

Zahi Lawand, Deputy Managing Director of Mindshare UAE, told Communicate that brands must, “embrace relevancy, convenience and experience.” He explained that in some cases, controversy works.  “But when you talk about the brand, you’re trying to focus on creating an amazing experience for your consumers,” he added.  In other words, brands need to establish their position in the worldly affairs and convey their brand values.

Profit-making over risk-taking

Led by millennials and Gen Z, standing up for a purpose could go a long way. Today’s youth prefers companies that stand for a cause that they can support. The company is believed to be  gaining points from their customer for talking about the issues that their customers care about. It is believed that “Responsible advertisement” will foster brand loyalty through the same cause, improve brand recognition and establish a brand identity.

An example from McDonalds recent campaign with the Emirates Red Crescent. This advertisement is taken form their online Instagram campaign.

According to BBMG and GlobeScan who surveyed over 2,058 US consumers in order to understand Gen Z, brands must serve a purpose. The research concludes that Gen Z is more likely to interact with a brand if they believe that the brand “serve communities and society” than just “making good products.”

“Understanding how brands have and can address audiences’ fears, dreams, anxieties, and hopes that result from such contradictions, particularly through cultural branding strategies[is vital],” said Dr. Odekhiren Amaize, Professor of Advertising and Marketing Communication at The Canadian University Dubai.

Through this approach, the overall ROI will potentially increase. However, brands might end up facing backlash when making a statement which might lead them to lose  some of their customers who might have other beliefs or have no loyalty to any cause.

“Actively promoting critical thinking skills and critical consciousness to perceive prevailing national ideologies along with social, political, and economic contradictions,” is a possible solution that Dr Amaize believes.

What can be done?

Brands must recognize their core values and evaluate their beliefs on various social matters has been a talking points among different brand leaders. In that case, not only brands can establish their brand identity but also effectively identify marketing strategies that can help them connect with a large portion of the current market consumers.

Nonetheless, through various writing, many experts in the field has explained that marketing teams must be diverse with races and gender. And when dealing with specific issues, it is best to seek guidance from a professional in pertaining to that field. In that case, marketers are expected to connect deeper.

“Our responsibility to make sure that whenever it begins, and whenever it ends, it’s a responsible approach,” Lawand  said.

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