One of the major themes noticeable in the work of the Cannes Lions 2013 is socially-minded Brand building. I don’t mean social-media minded, that should be at the heart of any marketing initiative, I mean social responsibility minded that becomes not just a silo within a Brand’s integrated efforts, it becomes more central. I’ve written about this several times of the past year or so (see here and here and here), and David Jones has written a great book on the topic (see here). Ultimately Brands are waking up to the fact that action to further their core purpose or vision in the world at large is critical to gain the respect of consumers. After all, consumers have lots of choices and they will not sacrifice at all when it comes to associating with Brands that fuel their desired personality traits and public personas.
What makes the theme of socially-minded Brand building exciting is how many are bringing it to life: not through messaging, but rather through innovation. Sure many companies still support a cause, partner with a charity, etc. but more and more are now providing tangible things to the areas that they want to further change. A brilliant example of this is the Mobile Grand Prix winning case study for Smart by DDB. In short, Smart, the largest telecom company in the Philippines, took sim cards and turned them into a free school text book delivery mechanism. In doing so, they helped overcome a serious education barrier in the country and furthered the progress of communication which is core to their business.
While much of the tangible innovation within the socially-minded Brand building area is product driven, some is more experience driven. Specifically, Brands are using their technological know-how and resources to not simply provide a unique product that furthers a cause, but rather to help improve an aspect of the community at large to further a cause. A superb example is the Titanium winning work for Samsung called the Bridge of Life. In short, Samsung used its technology and mobile connectivity to turn a bridge in Seoul known for suicides into a bridge of hope and encouragement. Have a look at the case study. Simply outstanding.
Another innovation tactic used in socially-minded Brand building is to develop parallel services that allows certain causes to become much more real. A great example of this is the Donor Cable in Brazil from Leo Burnett that brings to life the importance of blood donation by showing how critical and timely it can be through the comparison to cell phone charging. I wrote about this last week so I won’t go into it further. See the case below.