Yesterday in Cannes, Ian Wolfman from imc talked about how the agency had developed a strategy to make a deodorant brand sponsor and encourage a new female sport in the Olympics - in order to give the brand "values". Not value in economic terms; he actually talked about a brand as having a personality.
Very interesting case.
Can a brand have values? I´m a big fan of seeing brands as buddies, as having a relationship with its consumers and fans. But values are different – they come from a deeper source. They are a base for your actions and your Being, they shape a person. They can´t be added on afterwards like accessories. It´s the seed for life, the soul.
Is a deodorant brand created because it really feels for the female athletes? Hardly. The product came first, not the values. Hence, they are not really “values”.
Deodorants are no feminists. They will forever be products, brands. As brands they can support movements and take stands – because brand today are important to us. We include them in conversations, we see them as family and they fill a function beyond the functional. Brands can have more power than prime ministers. Just as single blogger can out rule a million dollar TVC campaign. A brand can do what politicians, lobbyists and unions can´t. Make a difference.
Brands can´t have values, but hooking up with values is another thing. If the product or service in born out of a value, then it can have values, but when the values are "extras" the brand is in trouble for being fake.
In their role as influences with resources - cash and creative minds - brands can step away from selling their boring selves to align with interesting phenomena like “girl power”; they can suddenly make good and improve their image at the same time.
Is this good or bad? Evil, manipulating and greedy – who cares? If a brand helps people with the purpose of attaining fame, glory and long term relationships with the market, can´t we simply accept that? Deep down we are all selfish, and this selfishness drives both people and brand to help each other (since win-win is most times the only way to help yourself).
I think the way a brand need to go about this is to see the sponsorship of a movement for what it is. When a brand starts saying it has values and is in the game to do good, it can easily sound pretentious and people will find the brand dishonest. But saying that you use your brand power to create change is honest; it will be bullet proof.
During the seminar a girl stood up and asked about the intention of a deodorant getting involved in female sports, and I can swear at least half of the people there were thinking the same thing. But stop embracing the guilt. Love instead the fact that capitalism makes people rich, healthy and happy no matter how egoistic the capitalists are. Love the fact that brands spend millions on charity because they desperately want our love. If they do good, celebrate! Raise your glass and say “bless you”.
One fabulous example is Times of India that created a campaign that would never have seen sunlight in a purely political world. With campaigns like “Love Pakistan” It made people aware of their rights, encouraged loads of Indians to participate in the political game, and added new brave perspectives. They became a peace movement. To sell more newspapers? Most likely... To earn money? Sure... But if you judge they will stop. Just raise your glass. Cheers.