Corporations Using Political Identity in Marketing
Various U.S. corporations have used political identity in their marketing as a way of reaching more clients as they take a particular stand on an issue that they feel they have the mandate to address. Some of these marketing strategies have been successful, while others have backfired and made more than 57% of consumers boycott these brands. According to Jonathan Copulsky, the author of ’Brand Resilience’ and Deloitte Consulting’s former chief marketing officer, the success of political identity marketing is determined by transparency, authenticity, and the commitment of a brand to the issue. Below are some brands that have taken a stand on an issue, although they do not align with the corporation’s views or identity.
Audi’s ‘Daughter’ commercial has received several mixed reactions since its first airing at the Super Bowl in 2017. The commercial is pro-gender equality based as narrated by a father who is concerned about the gender biases that his daughter is about to face. The daughter is shown in the video as she wins over her male opponents in a local cart race.
The Audi ad lacks one of the main elements of a successful political identity ad; authenticity. This commercial received negative criticism since there is no female member is Audi’s board. The ad was dismissed as hypocritical and aimed at exploiting the equal rights movement for the brand’s own gain.
The Audi’s ‘Daughter’ commercial received more negative reviews than positive on various platforms. On YouTube, the ad received more thumbs down than thumbs up with a difference of 17,000. Out of 189,135 mentions, Networked Insights found 7% had negative sentiments, while 25% of them held positive sentiments to this commercial.
Apple’s ‘Earth - Shot on iPhone’ commercial, as narrated by Carl Sagan, shows different clips of nature that have been shot on iPhones. The commercial calls the viewers to “Observe and cherish the only home we’ve ever know,” Apple is portrayed as dedicated to pushing the Eco image, although they have had a questionable environmental track record. In February 2013, Apple came under harsh criticism after a river in China was severely polluted by one of its suppliers turning it into milk-water. Friends of the Earth also accused the company in the same year of ‘thrashing tropical forest and coral reefs in Indonesia’ as a result of tin in the iPad and iPhone
As reported by Networked Insights, out of the total 873,933 mentions, there were only 5% negative mentions and 18% positive mentions. Although the response was not as negative as others on this list, its decision to champion environmental causes while being accused of having a questionable environment track record makes the campaign seem inauthentic. However, it is also an example of how a brand can use its past reputation as a way to improve its current perception as most people saw the commercial as a realization of the brand to embrace environmental preservation in its production.
Nike’s 30-seconds ‘equality campaign,’ featuring Serena Williams and Lebron James came under heavy criticism for promoting diversity while the brand mistreats its employees in the developing countries. Among the crew in the all-black and white clip are Victor Cruz, Kevin Durant, LGBT activist and soccer star Megan Rapinoe, Gabby Douglas, and Olympic hurdler Dalilah Muhammad. The short clip is narrated by actor Michael B. Jordan with the inclusion of Alicia Keys as she sings Sam Cooke’s "A change is gonna Come."
As the clip starts, Jordan says “Is this the land history promised?” as James is seen from the other side of the fence before the short film pans down from above a basketball court.
Durant and other characters in the clip paint a white line on the ground as Jordan says: “Equality should have no boundaries.” He continues to say that the ball should bounce the same for everyone and opportunity should not discriminate. Jordan closes the scene by saying “If we can be equal here, we can be equal everywhere.”
Fox sports reporter, Clay Travis, criticized the campaign for using sports giants and superstars to promote equality while people in the developing countries work tirelessly for $3 a day to make their shoes in bad factory conditions, like in Indonesia. There are no statistics available for the ad’s success on Networked Insights, YouTube or ad review sites.
Coca-Cola came up with a campaign that received heavy criticism for spreading misleading information about obesity. According to The New York Times, the heavily funded Coca-Cola campaign dismissed claims that too many calorific sodas were to be blamed for obesity, but rather lack of exercises.
The Global Energy Balance Network, the source of the brand’s science, invited weight-conscious Americans to eat what they want and focus more on exercise. This claim that intended to target even the younger kids was dismissed as misleading consumers into drinking sugar-sweetened sodas as much as they want, as long as they exercise. There is no measurement of success available on Networked Insights, YouTube or ad review sites. However, there has been a 25% fall in soda consumption in America since the late 1990s.
Kellogg, a US cereal maker, came under criticism from parents when they ran an ad that was meant to back the Government’s campaign against obesity. The brand’s commercials were displayed on bus stops and ran on televisions with the famous slogan “Ever thought of Coco Pops after school.” Created by Leo Burnett, the ad portrays the company’s monkey character dressed in a school uniform, with a strapline of the slogan. According to the parents, the ad encouraged children to fill up on sugary cereals after school instead of healthier snacks or meals.
For every 100 grams, Coco Pops contain 35 grams of sugar, making the brand’s cereal one of the more sugary options in the market for breakfast. The ad was dismissed as ‘hypocritical’ by parents despite Kellogg’s defense of an average serving of 30 grams as opposed to 100 grams. There is no measurement of success available on Networked Insights, YouTube or ad review sites.
Although some brands have been successful in integrating political identity in their marketing, there are still some that have experienced consumer boycott due to misleading and hypocritical information. Some of the big players in the market like Nike, Coca-Cola, Audi, Kellogg, and Apple have come under immense criticism from experts and media personalities for their ‘hypocritical’ commercials.