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Article 27 Feb 2020

From social responsibility to corporate activism

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Imagine for a moment that you’re Nike’s communications director. Imagine it’s May 22, 2019. You’ve been given a heads up that The New York Times has published some less than favorable content and someone on your team sends you the link. You open it on your phone. To see a video in the Opinion section titled “Allyson Felix: My Own Nike Pregnancy Story.”

For the next four minutes and seventeen seconds, you watch a Nike-endorsed athlete with nine Olympic medals denouncing your brand for its intention to pay her 70 percent less if she performs less well the birth of her daughter. “I’ve been one of Nike’s most widely marketed athletes. If I can’t secure maternity protections, who can?”

Her question rings in your head as you now watch the computer screen. On Twitter the negative mentions keep rolling in. You have a long list of incoming calls from journalists. And complaints are starting to come into customer services as well. You can see where all this could end. This isn’t the first complaint about his kind of thing. And besides, there’s fertile ground for it.

Just a few months ago, the “Dream Crazier” campaign led by Serena Williams received global praise. It was a whole feminist statement with a clear message to the uncomprehending patriarchal culture. “If we dream of equal opportunity, we’re delusional. If we stand for something, we’re unhinged,” Williams read. “Good thing she didn’t say ‘if we want to have children, they take away our livelihoods,” you think to yourself now.

Nike’s response took three long months, by which time Felix had swapped sponsors. On August 12, John Slucher, global marketing vice president of Marketing, sent a letter announcing the company’s commitment to not reduce payment or rescind the contracts of pregnant athletes “for a consecutive period of one and half years, beginning eight months before the birth date”.

How to turn digital audiences into brand advocates

These lessons show brand activism is a necessary strategic framework for companies to sustain themselves, regardless of the latest fashions in marketing and communications.

We have designed a canvas that features all the elements that come into play in any communication strategy in the post-digital era. From the analysis of the environment and business model to setting objectives and results; from the development of a narrative that connects the brand with its people; and reaching the planning of the person’s omnichannel experience through all its phases of attraction, adhesion and mobilization

If you are interested in going deeper into the strategic framework of brand activism, and to know in more detail about the post-digital communication canvas, we invite you to download both documents through this link.

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Iván Pino
Partner and Global Digital Senior Director
Pino is a journalist, with a degree by the UCM in Information Sciences and a Master’s Degree in Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility by the UNED-UJI. He has gathered 20 years of experience in communication and corporate reputation and has majored in digital communication. He is the co-author of “Claves del nuevo Marketing. Cómo sacarle partido a la Web 2.0” [Keys to New Marketing. How to get the most out of the web 2.0] (2009, Gestión 2000). He edited the first ebook in Spanish on social media communication, “Tu Plan de Comunicación en Internet. Paso a Paso” [Your step-by-step internet communication plan] (2008). Also, he is a lecturer and postgraduate teacher at the IE Business School, Carlos III University of Madrid and Complutense University of Madrid.
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