Editor's Take

Does The Narrative of Social Responsibility Actually Work For Brands?

As it happens, many brands are already doing their bit, commonly drawing up ‘social good’ strategies to raise money or fight for a chosen cause.

What does Salman Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Priyanka Chopra or Diya Mirza all have in common?

That’s right – they are all strong advocates of sustainable, equal, and eco-friendly fashion. Nevertheless, it’s not just the celebrities bestirring after the sphere we live in. With more individuals going through the metamorphism of social sensibility, brands have started taking their corporate social responsibility very seriously too more in terms of their responsibility towards ‘society at large’ than the stakeholders.

People like their association with good people. Similarly, in the business world, customers prefer to be associated with companies known for their morality, high ethical standards, and compelling brand values. There have been many instances where brands succeeded at positioning their product through a powerfully gripping campaign that does recede from view but not minds. The best commercials on our list are excellent examples of effective advertising strategies for social issues marketing campaigns that let their voices be heard. The following companies have embraced corporate social responsibility from top to bottom.

Myntra

Despite the realization that you are watching a commercial, few videos outclass the extant narratives and stimulate goosebumps in your body. Myntra’s three-minute film under ‘Myntra Unforgettables’ series has some unsung heroes. Not only does the ad touch the ecstatic moment of human upliftment, but it has also strived to arouse a palpable sense of women participation in sports from rural areas. The brand message is crisp, loud, and clear. The video features Niranjana Parte, a young footballer, who narrates changes in her life and also, how her village is growing towards development.

Ariel

I shared the new ad with one of my friends. She, after watching the ad, instantly remarked: “Ariel has always tried to elicit the most thought-provoking issues”. If a brand has successfully planted its ideology in the audience mind, it has succeeded in crafting an initiative that has whizzed beyond social media marketing. The detergent brand has been consistent in echoing through the minds of people with its commendable campaign #ShareTheLoad. The latest one has the focus on making sons learn about household chores and help mothers as the daughters do. The brand has adjured mothers to be the changemakers and reconsider the way they have raised their sons.

Lava Phone

Mobile phone giant, Lava, has recently employed an opportunity to release an advertisement on Republic Day. In this ad, makers have used creativity as the cornerstone for brand development. The makers have tried to evoke a sense of patriotism among the youth in the most realistic manner. The video starts with a society’s event organizer inviting the members of society for the flag hoisting ceremony, which they rebuffed deliberately. However, the scene witnessed elderlies reaching the spot, celebrating the ceremony, and capturing the moment of joy in the Lava phone. The ad in a way mocks the youth, keeping them in contrast to the old people, who are willing to adopt the new technology unlike the youngsters, who can’t preserve the old values.

Vicks

Vicks in 2017, launched ‘Touch of Care’ ad campaign that went viral for all the right reasons. The video reasserts the importance of care while challenging and seeking to redefine what family is in contemporary society. The campaign lead with the idea – ‘Family is where the care is’ featuring the real-life story of an orphan and her newfound ‘mother’. The ad film beautifully showcased how Gauri, a transgender woman brought up an orphan, Gayatri as her own child fighting against all odds.

Brooke Bond

Tea brands like Brooke Bond have taken up the society to educate them at the basic level where they lack the most. The Hindustan Unilever (HUL) brand released an ad film – ‘A Boy Who Girls Like’, in the year 2017 challenging the mentality of society by destigmatizing gender stereotypes such as the type of toys played with by boys and girls. The ad film begins with a little play-making tea with a tea toy set that is usually associated as a toy meant for girls. The narration starts by saying, “He loves to make tea, but that doesn’t make him a girl” and then goes to the end with “It just makes him a boy that girls like”.

Samrat Atta

The ad film is themed around how people eating together can help bridge the society divides created by us. Basically, the video shows how food brings people together not only at home but also at our schools, colleges, and workplaces. This campaign truly helped the wheat-flour brand to touch hearts around the country.

Bajaj Electricals

I wonder why father’s name is taken as a middle name, but whatsoever the reason may be, it is surely for honoring people. Very rarely do we see our mother’s name is used as the middle name. Bajaj Electricals earlier on the occasion of Mother’s Day rolled out a campaign ‘Rightfully Hers’ that revolved around the idea of giving mothers the utmost importance. The two and a half minute film commence with a busy son and his mother waiting for him to come home. The day finally ends with all the food lying on the table and the son crashing on the bed late at night. Next morning the mother is in for a surprise when while browsing Facebook she glances at a notification that her son changed his name from Varun Satyam Seth to Varun Maya Seth. The brand has urged people to give mothers the importance they actually deserve.

HP India

HP India introduced ‘Umeed Ka Diya’ video during Diwali, last year that demanded support for local artisans. The ad starts with a child and his genuine concern for a street vendor, ‘Amma’ whose efforts to sell diyas goes in vain. The bigger message here is to encourage viewers to support the street vendors and make this Diwali a brighter one for the less fortunate. HP India through such campaigns and awareness has put continuous attempts, creating awareness to promote local street vendors through newspaper inserts, carrying their photo with the address.

Everyone who holds authority in the industry today is feeling the growing need to take a position on some social or cultural issue that has become mainstream in our digital, partisan world. We reached out to a few of the industry leads to hearing their opinion on the growing responsibility of brands to take a stand on social issues.

“In a digital era, the content should reflect the social tensions while propagating the category benefit. When this happens in an intelligent way – it tends to catch on with the consumers and key opinion leaders,” says Shashi Mukherjee, Head of Digital Marketing, RB Health.

He further says,”While there’s so much clutter in the social space, carrying a placard that says, ‘I’m better, Buy me’, no longer cuts the ice, the ones who stand-out are the ones, who stand for something bigger than just the product benefit. Breaking stereotypes is the most obvious plank, given we are a society full of stereotypes.”

Mukherjee thinks that Ariel has been the torch bearer of initiating conversations around gender equality since 2015, and now that has opened up the Pandora’s box of conversations, and its good to see other brands are also joining the bandwagon. From the Ariel #ShareTheLoad to Airtel #Boss, to Havells – #HawaBadlegi to a Tanishq #SecondMarriage commercial, each brand is doing its bit to trigger conversations to engage a larger set of consumers while staying closer to the category benefit and drive thought leadership.

Speaking on HP’s ad campaign, Neelima Burra, Country Marketing Director, HP asserts, “The Diwali season always witnesses a huge influx of campaigns to draw audience attention in varied ways. With ‘Umeed ka Diya’ video, we wanted to highlight an emotional reason as to how technology can create a positive and tangible impact on people’s life. The idea about how small acts of kindness with the use of HP Laptops and Printers can create an impact on someone’s life. We are glad that this film made a difference and made people go and buy from street vendors, this Diwali.”

She further states, “‘Keep Reinventing’ is much more than a slogan but a mission for the company to remain relevant. When we looked at the brand, it seemed like HP had more of a brain than a heart. And my objective was to bring the heart back into the brand. I fundamentally believe, and numbers will prove, that when the heart commits the brain can only follow. Bringing back an emotional connection to the HP brand is a priority for us.”

Gopa Menon, Executive Vice President, Isobar, vocalizes out his opinion on the new Ariel ad campaign. He says, “The share the load Campaign over the years have become some kind of brand identity for Ariel. Through this, they have managed to raise awareness over the burning issue of gender inequality and asking consumers at large to take a small step of change even if it’s for a task like sharing the workload for laundry. The New Campaign is also extending the thought and trying to take the conversation further and I feel the campaign has panned out well and ticks all the boxes. All the Campaign series urges people to bring about minimal change in their lifestyle to bring about bigger change in the society.

Menon speaking also pointed out how addressing topics of breaking stereotypes is always a tricky thing which not every brand is willing to stick its neck out and stick to it for a longer period. “As more often we see brands doing these sorts of cause-related marketing as one of the instances. Ariel continues to spark these conversations among people at large. So, the question is what it does to the brand, I believe it generates a huge amount of emotional equity for Ariel. It also shows the brand is sensitive to what’s happening in society at large and is willing to place itself in the center of the conversation and try to bring about a positive change in society,” he adds.