Investing in culture

In 21 century, business is not just about making more profits or manipulating people to pull out their wallets. Although, for a business to survive and scale these sales plus profits have their own importance. No doubt.

However, today, the situation is a little different from the lenses of your customers. Let’s try to explore this.

American denim jeans brand, American Eagle raised the voice against the Florida shooting in 2018 by initiating an “Anti-gun march”, inviting millions of followers on Instagram (about 2.7 million) and blasting their audience database with emails.

Their email said: “Our high school years are supposed to be about freedom and fun–not fear and violence. We are committed to doing whatever we can to support (the students’) efforts to make our schools safer.”

Sure, the brand faced controversy after announcing this special event, after all, their indirect target was President Donald Trump and the right-wing supporters, Still, under political pressure, the brand bravely sent a clear message to “do the right thing”. Plus, the company donated $100,000 to the Anti-Defamation League and $25,000 to Tree of Life after the mass shooting.

If you’re thinking that this act is a marketing tactic or merely a publicity stunt, you might be right. Who knows!

But the thing is, if you look at the history of the American eagle, they always and always took a stance for their culture and society and never took their words back. No matter how controversial or hot the topic had become.

I believe Indian CMO’s should understand this fact that people are smarter today than ever and they can easily sense from a mile which business is manipulating them by running fake social campaigns for selfish gain. And a few even due to political pressure quickly pulled their hands back when they were trying to do something productive for society.

The rules of the game have changed.

Today, brands should say less of “Our business is to only make more money” and try to say more of “We’re also here to add meaning to our culture and society.”

There is no right and wrong here. But a long term strategy is to invest your time by working on the latter part.

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© 2020 by Harkirat Singh