Well it must be Christmas. The John Lewis and Marks and Spencer ads are on television and opinion is divided as to who has done the better job. But there is another campaign this festive season that is challenging all of these high profile, budget-busting ads. It’s the ‘Stop Funding Hate’ campaign.
The Stop Funding Hate campaign aims to call out the big brands that during the year, place ads in publications that are seen by many to preach hate with their divisive headlines and opinions.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that 2016 has left us with a bitterly divided society. Whilst the EU Referendum was at the core of this, many publications have been happy to heap fuel on the fire.
Working in an advertising agency, you might expect me to come out on the side of the advertisers and simply put this down as another token ‘do-gooder’ campaign.
But it’s not that simple.
If you’ve read any of our posts over the past few years, you’ll have noticed that we talk a lot about brand values and the need for companies to put these values at the core of their business. Without sounding completely mercenary, it’s not just about doing good, it’s about doing good business and in turn, making more money for your brand.
So let’s look at the benefits brands like John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and others might hope to enjoy if they did cut their media spend with the publications identified by the Stop Funding Hate campaign:
- Profits – like it or not, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and all of the other big advertisers exist to make a profit for their stakeholders. By being seen to support publications that actively seek to alienate large sections of society, these brands are at risk of losing not only the cash transactions of those they are alienating, but people who simply don’t want to be associated with what they would see as companies and brands supporting publications with a hate filled agenda.
- Reputation – Marks and Spencer has 1,382 stores worldwide. John Lewis is set to open a new store in Australia this month and has an outlet in Heathrow. So does it benefit the reputation of these ‘international’ brands to be seen as supporting the sort of racial, religious and sexual orientation hate that underpins many of the tabloids? In an ever more global and diverse marketplace, brands cannot afford to be seen to be isolationists.
- Staff – Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose employ thousands of people throughout the UK – each of them an ambassador for their brand. Yet many of the people working in these companies are the target of the hate from the papers that their employers are advertising in. Now ask yourself this, if you were working for a company that was placing ads in a KKK magazine, would you be proud of your brand, would you be willing to go that extra mile for your employer?
Here at The Mission Control Communications, we are fortunate in that we work with brands that respect their customers and their employees. Our clients understand the relevancy of their brand associations and how these association impact on their business objectives and outcomes.
Working with brands all over the world, we are constantly aware that behind every brand are people; staff, customers, suppliers, influencers – millions of people from all walks of life with the power to help grow a brand or sink it.
The decision for brands such as those targeted by the Stop Funding Hate is a simple one and at this point I’m reminded of a saying my mother had, “If you lie down with dogs, expect to get up with fleas.”