Why should brands care about peace? This seemingly odd question has suddenly become a hot topic in agencies and marketing departments around the world. D&AD, the non-profit that represents the creative community, has launched a new pencil, the White Pencil. The award is there to reward creative work that would be worthy of a Black Pencil, but is changing the world for the better at the same time. This year, D&AD's challenge to the creative community is to make more than 20 pct of the world population aware of Peace Day.
There are a number of reasons why it could be good branding to promote such a big cause as peace in the world. Let's look at three good reasons to get involved.
1. Brand is the most direct link between the values of the society and the bottom line of your company. So brands need to be on the forefront of the public moods.
If their business practices get out of synch with the public the results could be disastrous.
The environment and climate change are good examples of this. When fear of global warming went mainstream in the naughties many brands were caught on the back foot and lost out on a big opportunity to position themselves as progressive, forward-thinking and innovative. Only a few smart brands, for example Toyota and GE, quickly saw the opportunity of aligning themselves with the shift in public attitudes. Both Toyota and GE Toyota through being first to market with a hybrid car and GE by aggressively marketing Ecoimagination successfully repositioned themselves as greener than their peers and their competitors are still playing catch up from that.
In a similar way, it is highly likely that the peace cause will be just as mainstream (in fact that is exactly what Peace Day and D&AD are hoping for). Brands that are on the forefront of this trend will benefit from extra trust and positive associations from all their audiences.
2. In an increasingly digital world, great content has become more precious than ever. When content is abundant, attention becomes scarce. You will only get it if you have something very interesting to say. So good content is key to any brand campaign. You can no longer run a campaign based on an old brand theme without having something, real, tangible, new and exciting to back it up. Often this new thing is a new product or an added feature to a new product. But it could also be a new initiative, such as engagement with a good cause.
If brands can find original ways to promote Peace Day and integrate it with their brand messages, the Peace Day involvement could be become a cost-effective way to get a new exciting story about the brand out there. In short, Peace Day is potentially great brand content.
3. It's no news that there's a war for talent going on. And many bright people want what they do to be meaningful. By taking part in a cause like Peace Day, brands get an added reason why someone should work for them. This isn't only helpful for recruitment.. Working with a good cause is energising and motivating for everyone who already works for the firm. We all know it feels good to do good, and a workplace that does something good in the world feels better to work for than one that doesn't.
There are many other reasons why brands should take part in the White Pencil and there are also some reasons why it might not be right for all. But at least all ambitious and forward-looking brand managers should think seriously about whether to join in or not. They could be missing out on a big opportunity to push their brand forward in an unexpected way.