Does Marketing Activism distort Social Causes?
Commitments and requirements of brands in the new age of social movements
In June Calvin Klein launched a Pride Campaign with Jari Jones.
According to her Instagram info, she is an Actress, Model, and Activist.
According to Wikipedia, Calvin Klein is an American fashion house.
Historically, the company has been in various controversies caused by its marketing strategies, and this one wasn’t an exception.
June was a controversial month on its own, we had protests, the virus, and much heavy stuff around the world. Brands were pressed against the wall to respond and give their position on those matters.
Many of them went with the flow of the public, others kept waiting for their moment, and others didn’t say a thing.
Both customers and employees claimed for companies to pronounce their voices. Media clapped the courage from the ones who dared to speak first, but some mistakes were made, like the case of L’Oréal.
Then, is it a brand fault to be absent or fail in participating in social causes?
Back to Calvin. They have promoted sensuality and sexuality openly, their critics were mostly because of that, “objectification of women” or “sexism”, as the NSFW factor was often present.
Their approach to Jari Jones was acclaimed and disdained at the time. Nothing weird for them.
American fashion house Calvin Klein has made history by including its first black transqueer and plus-sized model as part of this year’s Pride campaign, honouring the LGBTQI+ community.
What is interesting for marketers, is timing and context. A move that in other circumstances would have attracted tons of attention, went unnoticed.
The quote mentions “black, plus-sized and LGBTQI+ community”, the complete package plus the feminine particle.
They acquired the facility to enter those niches, backed up by the same communities represented in the same campaign.
It was merely marketing or authentic brand activism?
Let's stop for a minute to think.
First, designing a campaign requires and aggregates many components, from the creativity of the marketers to the requirements of managers and executives, taking into account the technological, social, and geographical limitations of the business per se, and a large etcetera.
Second, the customer is the king, if they demand it, it is necessary to oblige. You can’t ignore the market trends, customers have become more conscious. If you stalled, you disappeared.
Third, measuring authenticity isn’t as simple as summing the individual perspective of each participant, some may agree wholeheartedly and others might do it “because it’s work”. Brands aren’t persons, even if investors and executives dictate the path, the last and small details come from the artists and responsible for each project.
Is difficult to tell apart if Calvin was or not a “hypocrite”, in any case, they just did what they had to.
I’m not justifying brands, if their sole purpose is to earn customers, is better to not do a thing, but isn’t helpful to judge them while being apart.
We cannot expect that a single company would change society and build a better world on its own. We must call for social compromise on their part, but taking into account the reality of what a business is.
So, is it a brand fault to be absent or fail in participating in social movements?
Think by yourself and value the whole context.
Leave apart morality, what’s important is if it contributes to society at all or not?