Behavior Change
Hot Button Issues of the Day:
Consumer Concerns Driving Behavior, Activism

Nick Aster, founder and publisher of TriplePundit, moderated a panel discussion Tuesday morning about activism and purchasing power, featuring Aria Finger, CEO of DoSomething.org; Shayna Englin, Managing Director of Change.org North America; Briana Quindazzi of BBMG; and Marlin Miller, COO of Care2.

Quindazzi led with how she understood activism today, describing how “activism can be thought about through purchasing power, as people are stepping up to support particular brands by buying their products.” Pre-empting a critique of the new age of activism, she continued by stating that “digital activism does not replace traditional forms of activity - it is a useful tool in the activism toolbox that can help change the social narrative.”

While an opportunity, Finger and Miller highlighted that the alignment of brand and cause must be authentic: “There is nothing that we can do for you that is a one-time cause that has nothing to do with your brand,” Finger said. Miller echoed this sentiment, warning brands that “authenticity is so critical, you can’t just grab a cause and attach your brand. It’s really about activation of brand promise and aligning brand values in an authentic way.” This is part of what Miller calls “the millennial mindset,” urging brands to approach this by “thinking like a millennial, ensuring the cause connects on a personal level to give it some life and to create a movement.”

In discussing the difference between generations, Finger said: “There isn’t a big difference between the millennials and non-millennials; they all care about a brand’s purpose - the difference is in the tools that you use to engage and communicate with them.”

She then urged the audience to genuinely align brand and cause, and go beyond the campaign: “If your brand is going to support breast cancer, for example, then you’d better also have paid maternity leave, breastfeeding rooms and the whole suite of things that support women’s health - if you just have one it doesn’t work.”

As far as how a brand can figure out where that authenticity lies, Englin pointed out that “people care less about rallying against a single thing; we’re more interested in rallying for something.” She went on to highlight how a positive campaign can help “identify the higher purpose, what the world needs right now and how you can get behind it,” providing the example of “helping put people on the path to better health, rather than just being against smoking.”

Englin supported the opportunities of a ‘yes’ campaign over a ‘no’ campaign: “No is always easier; I think where the opportunity lies is that ‘yes’ allows actual listening, which can find a path that allows a greater alignment with purpose and lasting impact.”

On authenticity, Miller asserted that the cause is generally more effective if it comes from within the brand: “To be authentic and have a lasting impact, the cause really needs to come from the brand, and we see ourselves as an activation engine that can support the brand to identify and achieve their goals.”

Measuring the impact of your work focuses on metrics that follow how the cultural narrative changes around an issue. Quindazzi described how BBMG measures how people are talking about an issue online. She provided a recent example of where the conversation has really changed, citing “The Red Wave, where people are now sharing their experiences of their periods and really removing that taboo.”

In closing, Finger resounded; “If you can make millions of dollars in social change, then that’s fantastic; I want the good partners out there to make money.”

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