Olivia F. Scott - OBlog

The Power of Marketers To Shift Society

How Brands’ Promotion of 4 Positive Values Can Shift Culture

Marketers are powerful.

What we highlight in advertising content influences people, thus impacts society.

The other day I overheard a man on the bus speaking with his friend saying “I’ve thought of about a million different ways we can make money. I wake up in the morning thinking about it, I think about it all day, and I go to bed thinking about it.”

While I earhustled, I wondered where his particular preoccupation with money came. Was it family, was it a dream or was it culture. And while I absolutely did not know this young gentleman, I couldn’t help but question how much my industry’s deification and glamorizing of money influenced him to think that having more of it would solve all issues. Later that week while I at the gym, I saw a series of videos featuring content depicting fancy cars and possessions, and embraced what we all know to be true which is you covet what you see.

So, using the ink today to offer four recommendations of concepts & values marketers can consider highlighting in advertising to shift our preoccupations, thus culture.

  1. Confidence in Women — Confidence among young girls, in part due to social media, is at an all-time low. Cutting is at an all time high, as is oral sex starting in junior high. Women who are delaying marriage and families for career and to find the right partner are still disdained. This ad by SK-II in China encourages women’s confidence and has a powerful impact on society. I invite more brands to create content which promotes women’s self esteem to counter the tonnage of content which denigrates it.
SK-II Marriage Market Ad

2. Kindness & Generosity — Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. In business often the focus is on winning. The goal of winning is for individuals to go home with the most marbles and have the biggest and best of everything. How can advertising show us that the more you give, the more you get in this world. Truly showcasing the power of giving vs hoarding thus refuting the concept of scarcity and spreading the concept of abundance, inspiring us to believe there is enough for us all.

3. Empathy — We all come from different walks of life and different households, so our values and lens on life are distinctly different. How can advertising strengthen our empathy for others’ plights by showing humanity more. There is much more to us than what we see with the human eye. Showing such, like Under Armour does here, inspires respect and a level of appreciation for athletes because we see what’s going on behind the scenes. Beautiful invocation of empathy also shown in this ad by Samsung about a young girl who’s mother is sick and how the voice assistant proves to be a life aid for her, view here.

Under Armour “Will Makes Us Family” Ad
Samsung Bixby Voice Assistant Ad

4. True Inclusivity — If you observe casting in advertising, let’s say for an American beauty brand, you will see four women — one of each ethnicity, Asian, Black, Hispanic and Caucasian, all in one ad. When I see this, I understand that they want women to see that the product works for their skin type, I still usually say to myself, “typical.” However, sometimes the fear of not leaving any group of customers out, they feel force fitted into one ad. I peer at such ads, annoyed, and identify which race they were targeting with the casting of each person in the ad. Sigh.

Bobbi Brown Ad

Brands, can we do this differently? Consider featuring different people in different campaigns, or cluster in a more natural way. Like two friends of different ethnicities — but not FOUR. Maybe the different ethnicities are featured throughout the year in distinct campaigns e.g. the Fall campaign features a black male, the Spring campaign a Hispanic woman, and yet and still the Summer campaign features a Caucasian LGBTQ couple. Just want the groupings to feel more natural for true customer resonance as the goal is authenticity and believability. On a side note, speaking of inclusivity, the work done by Verizon supporting LGBTQ culture is remarkable. Check it out here.

Instead of taking cues from the government or celebrity culture, I invite all marketers and advertisers to inject values of worth into advertising to make the world a better place. The change starts with us. Instead of going with what’s popular e.g. money, lust, fame, let’s make things popular empathy, true inclusivity, confidence in women and kindness & generosity more popular.

Let’s go…