I was recently asked if knowing a brand’s values really sways consumers into buying a product. There are a lot of stats out there to suggest that consumers do care about a brand’s values and initiatives. But, whether someone picks one brand of toilet paper over another solely because of their green initiatives is something I still debate. One notable impact of conscious consumerism is the demand it puts on brands to be authentic. When cultural moments arise, it presents either a risk or an opportunity for brands to participate in the narrative. We’ve all seen it done poorly: Pepsi’s commentary on police brutality with their “Live for Now” ad starring Kendall Jenner or Volkswagen advertising “clean diesel” engines when in reality they were releasing up to 40x the permitted amount of pollutants.
Brands that participate in an authentic way will draw attention. Brands that participate in an inauthentic way will also draw attention. With social media and Cancel Culture a normalized feature of society, there is pressure on brands to make sure any cultural participation is appropriate. At Teak, we’ve had plenty of conversations with clients assessing whether it was appropriate to run a campaign or launch a feature in response to a particular cultural moment. To be honest, we’ve often advised against it. If it doesn’t feel completely aligned with the company and there isn’t a meaningful takeaway, then it’s not always strategic to make your voice heard at that moment. That being said, that wasn’t the case recently for our client partner Flickr.
Instagram Reels Spark Concern Among Photographers
At the end of 2021 Instagram announced that it would focus its platform on its video features such as Reels and move further away from photos. Put simply, their community wasn’t happy. Celebrities like the Kardashians spoke out and hundreds of thousands of people signed a petition to “Make Instagram Instagram Again”, emphasizing that “There’s no need to overcomplicate things… Let’s go back to our roots with Instagram and remember that the intention behind Instagram was to share photos.” The change got so much attention that Instagram released a statement and back peddled a bit on deprioritizing photos.