I like to think of myself as a person who is always looking out for anything I can do to make the world a better place. However, I also know that I am a person who loves shopping, probably a bit too much. So anytime I see a company trying to use their brand for the power of good, instead of just the power of making money, it always sparks my interest.
Last month, the launch of Starbucks’ #RaceTogether campaign was met with a massive wave of criticism from the public, causing it to shut down just a few days after it’s launch. The campaign required Starbuck’s baristas to write the hashtag - #RaceTogether onto their customers coffee cups in an attempt to encourage customers to start a discussion about race in America. Starbucks’ effort to facilitate a new conversation about race was criticised on a number of different levels, one being, as GC writer Kathleen pointed out, that the pick up counter at your local coffee shop isn’t exactly the best place to start an in-depth conversation about race. However, arguments were also raised as people accused the company of using racial tension to sell coffee and make money.
The question of whether companies should be using social change or charity in advertising is a really complicated one-and something I struggle with a lot. Part of me thinks that any attempt by anyone to raise awareness of the issues that face our world today is always a good thing. But part of me is also skeptical that brands are praying on my love of activism, just to try and fool me into buying a new deodorant or another cup of coffee.
In an attempt to try and make my mind up, and as a great opportunity to watch some fun Youtube videos, I’ve gathered together some of the best ‘Advertising for Good’ campaigns from the last few years. Enjoy.
1. Dove Real Beauty.
Dove’s campaign for real beauty has been working for over 11 years to change societies’ ideals around beauty and the female body. I’m not going to lie, I cry at almost every new Dove commercial. Their adverts empower women in a beautiful, sensitive way and they are without a doubt one of the most successful companies using advertising for social good.
2. Always #LikeAGirl.
At this years Super Bowl, Always made a huge impact with the launch of their #likeagirl campaign. Their amazing advert encouraged women and girls everywhere to show the world that doing something like a girl should never be an insult.
3. Chipotle Back to the Start.
In 2011 Chipotle’s ‘Back to the Start’ video went viral, highlighting problems within the food production industry. Ethics within food production is an issue I care hugely about as often it’s so hard to know if your food is coming from the right place. Having a huge (and delicious) food chain like Chipotle shed light on such an important issue is a brilliant way of bringing ethical farming to the public’s attention.
5. P&G 1 Like = 1 Day.
The company P&G have been working for over 10 years on their P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water program. So far the program has invested $50 million toward clean drinking water and their goal is to deliver more than 2 billion litres of water every year to those who need it. Their new campaign ‘1 Like = 1 Day’ has the company providing one day’s worth of clean drinking water for every person who ‘Likes’ their Facebook Page. Which is certainly a more productive way to use Facebook than cyber-stalking and watching cat videos.
You can definitely see these campaigns as companies praying on societies’ good will in an attempt to make money. However, I like to look at these commercials as representing good, charitable people (like us) using these companies for our own benefit. These companies' need to advertise has provided a way to get powerful, worldwide awareness for the issues that they are highlighting, making people aware of the many problems facing our society today. In my mind, that’s always going to be a good thing.