Should Brands Get Political?

Brands are encouraged today to be living, breathing entities with values and to form relationships with customers. Is it any surprise then that some have jumped into politics?

An Obama campaign decal next to the Apple logo on a user's laptop.

In 2012, Apple Inc. spent $1.97 million on lobbying and contributed $620,929 in campaign donations to both political parties.* Should brands get political?

I realized recently that this topic has entered the mainstream conversation when an iconic brand wanted to explain to the public why it did NOT want to jump into the political fray. Starbucks ceo Howard Schultz wrote an open letter explaining why the company did not want its cafes to be battlegrounds in the hotly contested gun control debate. Honestly? Starbucks would just love for you to meet friends or a client at one of its cafes and have some coffee — not picket or protest.

“I am proud of our country and heritage of civil discourse and debate. It is in this spirit that we make today’s request. Whatever your view, I encourage you to be responsible and respectful of each other as citizens and neighbors.” –Howard Schultz, Starbucks ceo

On the other hand, some brands have decided to jump in and announce their views to the world. Last year, Chick-fil-A made headlines with its views on gay marriage rights, which led to passionate responses on both sides of the aisle. Those opposing gay marriage scheduled ‘Chick-fil-A Appreciation Days” to support the company while gay rights advocates called for a boycott. Eager to remove itself from the controversy, the company issued a statement saying it would “leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena” going forward.

Join the Discussion

Should brands get involved with politics? Or take stands on hotly debated issues?

What’s your take?

Photo courtesy of swiperbootz via a Creative Commons License
*Apple statistics courtesy of Ethical Consumer
Starbucks ceo Howard Schultz’s open letter available at starbucks.com
Chick-fil-A quote via Wikipedia  

Cheers,
Jaime

Join the conversation: 
Facebook logo  Google+ branding  Twitter bird icon Instagram_Icon30x30   Pinterest logo  YouTube  LinkedIn_Logo60px

What The American President Got Right About America — And Marriage Equality

I thought this post from March 30, 2012, was especially relevant today and worth a share.

What The American President Got Right About America — And Marriage Equality.

Please read and share your thoughts…

Cheers,
Jaime

Join the conversation: 
Facebook logo  Google+ branding  Twitter bird icon  Instagram  Pinterest logo  YouTube  LinkedIn_Logo60px

 

Behind The Scenes: Ahead of the Game

Most of my life I’ve been behind the scenes: backstage, behind the camera, off right, number two, backing someone up. Mostly by choice, sometimes by necessity.

See, it’s not that I wasn’t capable; sometimes, the person behind the scenes is really running the show. A linchpin, so to speak. This person wields power and shouldn’t be ignored.

A behind the scenes view...

A behind the scenes view can make the big picture crystal clear.

What’s my point? Know the situation you’re in; the players, who’s involved in the decision-making process. Titles can be meaningless, and seating arrangements misleading. That marketing coordinator in a cubicle? He runs the marketing department; his company recently moved to an open concept floor plan (no offices).

I’ve seen so many situations where someone never has a chance — to win the business, to land that dream job, to be invited to partner with an innovative organization — because he ignores the assistant that he arrogantly assumes is worthless. She’s not; she may be one of the most powerful people in the room.

While you should be nice to everyone in general, there’s also something else at stake.

In today’s society, that receptionist taking your phone call could have the president’s ear — and be an integral part of the decision-making process. The barista making your drink at Starbucks could be a power player in your industry someday (soon) — or the daughter of the Fortune 500 CEO you’ve been after.

Don’t judge someone by the position she’s in at the moment or for trying to show gratitude. That ‘young lady’ carrying coffee you came in the building with? She’s not an intern or assistant; she’s the CMO you’re interviewing with. I hope you didn’t miss that opportunity!

Speak out–

Have you ever misread a situation? Assumed someone wasn’t important when he was? Been misread yourself?

Chime in with your experiences so we can all grow together.

Cheers,
Jaime

Photo courtesy of Asian Development Bank on flickr

Join the conversation: 
Facebook logo  Google+ branding  Twitter bird icon Instagram_Icon30x30   Pinterest logo  YouTube  LinkedIn_Logo60px

What The American President Got Right About America — And Marriage Equality

One of my favorite movies is The American President, and the scene that always jumps to mind is President Andrew Shepherd’s (an inspired performance by Michael Douglas) speech on America. If you haven’t seen it or just want to relive it, here you go.

Why do I love this speech? It nails the best — and hardest — things about living in this country. As Shepherd says…

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight.”

Living in America brings freedom of speech, the ability to practice whatever religion you so desire, the right to peacefully assemble, to protest. It does not bring insulation from others’ opinions, ways of life or personal beliefs. The law is not your personal value system. Just because something is legal doesn’t mean that you personally agree with it; it means that other people in this country have rights as well.

It's time for marriage equality.

As the Supreme Court debates marriage equality, a furor has erupted from both sides on the issue. However, it makes sense to take a step back while taking a deep breath. It doesn’t matter (in a legal sense) if you’re for or against marriage equality; it’s necessary or the 14th Amendment isn’t really law.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The law’s pretty clear. Our LGBU friends should legally be allowed to enjoy the benefits of marriage just like their heterosexual counterparts. To quote the aforementioned fictitious President Shepherd…

“You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”.

Yes, we all need personal value systems and beliefs to navigate our course in life. Legalizing marriage equality isn’t an attack on or a support of your personal beliefs; it’s simply extending benefits of citizenry to those currently without. If you’re straight, it won’t directly affect your life. But to our gay friends, it’s an overdue part of the process toward equality.

Obviously, this is a contentious issue, so I would love your thoughts. Is my logic correct? Or do you believe that the law is about morality and personal beliefs?

Video of speech courtesy of antoniocostaamaral via YouTube

Image courtesy of The Human Rights Campaign via Storify

Looking forward to the day we’re all equal,
Jaime

Join the conversation: 
Facebook logo  Google+ branding  Twitter bird icon  Pinterest logo  LinkedIn logo

Rage Against The Political Machine — 5 Takeaways for Your Marketing Efforts

I’m not a political junkie, but I do consider myself a well-informed voter. I vote for each candidate individually, not strictly along party lines, and actually put some time and thought into my decisions. Throw in the fact that I’m an advertising major, and you probably figure I can’t get enough of the campaign season. Right?

Nixon campaigns

Wrong. When I cast my ballot today, I not only felt a sense of pride about participating in the electoral process, but also a sense of relief that the annoying attack ads, endless array of (bad) direct mail pieces and make-my-head-explode robo calls would be coming to a halt. I love America, but sometimes I swear political campaigns are the least effective advertising anywhere.

Surprisingly, there are actually some good strategies to follow coming out of political advertising, and of course, there are other strategies going on that you should run away from as fast as you can. Below are five takeaways — good and bad — from the political advertising machine.

1) DO Brand Yourself –> OK, you don’t have to stick with yard signs and bumper stickers. There are thousands upon thousands of promotional items that you can brand with your logo and/or message. Why promotional products? Because they work. The statistics abound but consider this:

82.6% of people can recall the company and brand on their promotional product and 50% have a favorable impression of the advertiser. To take it further, 83% of people like promotional products and 58% keep them for one year or longer. How’s that for effective?

2) DO Collaborate/Partner –> Find companies with similar audiences to spread the love, cut costs and increase exposure. For example, the Akron Public Schools (APS) had a new levy on the ballot, which they desperately needed passed. They worked with a popular local race (the Project Homeless Connect 10k & 5k) to further promote their cause. An eye-catching direct mail piece that explained exactly how the levy would benefit students was included in each runner’s swag bag (no mailing costs), and the race director spoke favorably of the levy during the awards presentation. In addition to attaching itself to a great cause, the APS touched hundreds of members of its target audience at one time with only a small expense (printing costs).

3) DON’T Spam –> For some of the races, I did some additional research before figuring out who I was voting for. When I received direct mail pieces from these candidates, I kept them to look over later. When I dug them out the night before the election, I couldn’t believe how many duplicates I had received of the exact same pieces. Not only is this not at all cost effective, it doesn’t impress many people. If you’re going to really utilize one form of advertising, at least mix it up. One judge in particular stood out because her pieces were all different, including letters of recommendation from others, examples of her past success and highlighting different reasons why she was worthy of your vote (instead of cramming everything onto one piece like an encyclopedia). Go figure, I ended up voting for her.

4) DON’T Attack –> One other note about the judge I mentioned in the previous example… She only spoke about herself – how she was positively impacting the community, past decisions on cases, etc. She never attacked the other candidate even though the other candidate (or excuse me, her party) attacked her. (The other candidate claimed complete ignorance of the attack ads. Yeah right.) Like most people, I want to hear why I should vote for you (or buy your product), not why your competitor’s lacking. If you’re talking about your competitor, then I’m assuming that you have nothing positive to tell me about yourself (or your company).

5) DO Be True to Yourself –> Once you develop your brand’s voice, tell its story. Don’t embellish, misrepresent facts or flat out lie to make your brand sound better. If you feel like you have to do that, then something is missing. As I was discussing all of the blatantly false political ads with another woman in the voting line, she made a great point.

“I don’t lie,” she said. “When you lie, you have to remember what you said so that you can tell the same lie down the road. Just tell the truth; it’s so much easier.” That’s one thing we should all agree on.

So I hope everyone voted today to make your voice heard. Go ahead and take some key points from the political advertising machine to market your company or brand better while lowering costs and collaborating more effectively. If you remember only one thing, don’t use robo calls. EVER.

Happy Election Day!
Jaime

p.s. For more information on promotional products, visit http://www.promotionalproductswork.org/ or contact me.

Let’s chat (about political advertising, your marketing needs or otherwise):
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Pinterest logo