How Far Will Your Brand Go to Maintain Its Reputation in An Ever-Changing Society?
The world today is very different to the gender specific toys, clothes, colours and career paths we were supposed to follow a decade ago. Some babies are not even constructed by an X or a Y chromosome anymore, yet instead with gender-neutral names and pronouns.
This huge worldwide change has got me thinking about how this affects the way brands communicate with their audience, and how companies make their marketing campaigns inclusive of this developing society.
How Do You Incorporate Modern Society into Your Brand?
Edward Razek, was the Chief Marketing Officer for a brand best-known for stereotypically skinny models, strutting down a low-lit runway in very limited clothing, who he personally hand-picked for 15 years, resigned from his position after Victoria’s Secret hired an openly transgender model.
Valentina Sampaio, the 22-year-old Brazilian transgender model, looks very elegant and suave in all the photographs from her modelling campaigns. Valentina is not doing any harm at all to this global brand, making me think that Razek is either very attached to the portrayal of the brand, or very attached to his outdated values.
Razek, however, should have learnt from the disruption he caused, only a year prior to his resignation. During an interview with Vogue, he said that plus-sized figures had no place in Victoria’s Secret, and audiences had “no interest” in seeing them. These comments created an uproar and outrage, making viewing figures significantly decline for the 2018 fashion show, sales decrease swiftly, and even causing store closures.
A brand being labelled regressive is not great for their identity in 2019, so why is Razek so attached to his own outdated opinions, rather than helping the brand blossom in the light of the more equality-based world, by actually doing his job as marketer?
Maybe he took ‘all publicity is good publicity’ a bit too seriously, by making a dramatic exit from the company?
In the Marketing World, Is It A Good or Bad Idea to Share Social and Political Opinions?
Yes, it gives the brand or company a personality, a respective touch, and an open voice, providing its employees, clients and customers with the opportunity to do the same, but is this sometimes too influential?
Recently, I have noticed a huge amount of people on social media sharing facts, statistics, and posts about climate change, the new Prime Minister, Parliament, and other social and political issues. However, unless you are making changes yourself, to help the diminishing environment, does your ‘share’ actually help? Probably not.
One social media post I found particularly humorous was from an Instagram travel influencer, whom name-and-shamed a café for still using plastic straws. Fair enough, he clearly cares a huge amount about the wellbeing of the planet. Well… not entirely true. The next chapter of his Instagram story was of him eating the tentacles of various sea creatures, not so environmentally friendly I must say, and completely backtracking the idea that giving up plastic straws saves our water wildlife.
So How Does This Variety of Opinions from Influencers Affect Their Followers?
Well, for a start, it’s very confusing, especially for a younger audience whom are taught to be confident and independent in their beliefs. No one is going to change their whole life by giving up non-reusable material, just because one Instagrammer complained about a plastic straw.
Moreover, not everyone in one company or brand will have the exact same outlook on social and political opinions, shown in a fine example by Ed Razek, and this could mean compromising your own beliefs to be a part of the company you’re employed by.
Now back to my original question; how far should a brand go to maintain its reputation? Well, I guess this depends how brave your brand is, how badly you want to share any opinions, and whether you want to compromise your own beliefs to do so.
Overall, yes, it’s a great idea to be passionate about your brand, but as society changes over time, your brand will need to as well.