We recently spoke with Juan Luiz Isaza, VP of Strategy and Innovation at DDB Latina to get his insights on the increasing role brands play in highlighting social and environmental issues and how consumers expect them to do just that.
Isaza, who is also set to judge at the newly-launched Luum Awards which focuses on brands that make positive contributions to the world, says that the growing number of more socially conscious brands is not just a trend, but more of a reflection of what today’s consumers expect from brands they engage with.
“The brand commitment to all these causes is linked to long-term social issues such as global warming or inequality that will be present in consumers’ agendas for many years,’ said Isaza.
From your role as a judge at the Luum Awards, the new international festival that awards ads with social and environmental messages, do you think brands are investing enough in these types of ads?
It depends on the strategy of every brand. In general, I can see a huge amount of effort from many brands in terms of proving their commitment to social and environmental issues. But every country has its own dynamics. I would say that globally we are seeing brands with a lot of interest and investment for showing their commitment. They have understood that committing themselves to these causes is helping them connect much efficiently with current and potential customers.
How do you get advertisers to invest more in these types of messages?
I think advertisers know the importance of social and environmental causes in today’s world. We are living in an era of marketing that requires brands to be part of the solution to social and environmental problems. The best way to persuade them is by inviting them to listen to their own consumers. Some time ago, committing to this type of cause could be a competitive advantage, now is more like a matter of survival.
Are ads with positive messages and social content just a trend or is this something that will continue over time?
They are not a trend. I think they’ll go for much longer. The brand commitment to all these causes is linked to long-term social issues such as global warming or inequality that will be present in consumers’ agendas for many years. Brands that are showing their commitment to these global issues are simply responding to the global mindset of consumers.
Marketing used to be about the benefits of a product for me as a consumer. Now, the consumers are asking brands about the collective benefits. In other words, consumers are asking what the brand is doing for improving the social or environmental condition for the community not just for the individual.
“Consumers are going to the supermarket with an attitude of ‘casting their votes’. In other words, they select the brands that support the causes they support and prefer those that have practices that are friendly with a sustainable world.”
What are the most common mistakes that communication agencies make when creating ads with social issue content?
For me, the first one is not listening to consumer’s priorities but placing the brand interests before community wellbeing. In general, most brands see a commitment to social and environmental issues as a marketing subject. It must be a company priority. Consumers know well when the efforts are mere a marketing execution vs when it is an authentic effort.
Will we soon see creative teams with anthropologists and sociologists so as to produce more effective social issue communications?
I think there are already anthropologists and sociologists in many agencies. And many other professionals that can interpret the social and cultural movements.
“In my opinion, the problem is that consumers are savvier, and they will find any contradiction between the brand messages and the real practices of the company.”
For me, the key point here is not about the specific professions but the ability of the agencies to read the culture in real-time and provide the brands with ideas on how to keep innovating not only in terms of communications but also with new products or services that are related to social interests and worries of their consumers.
You see a lot of ads with social messages, but few with environmental messages. Are brands afraid to engage in environmental issues?
In my opinion, the problem is that consumers are savvier, and they will find any contradiction between the brand messages and the real practices of the company. We know the environment has many fronts (production, packaging, logistics, etc). I think there are very few brands that can claim today good practices in all aspects. But in the future, having all aspects under control is an obligation. That is the real challenge for brands and companies.
In regards to environmental issues, are advertising and social media able to achieve what politics has not been able to achieve despite decades of efforts?
Citizens are very disappointed with governments and political institutions because they haven’t solved the environmental issues. Time is up and consumers know it. Consumers are looking towards brands and companies because they know they can act quicker and more effectively.
Also, because companies have also responsibility in the environmental crisis. I think consumers have discovered that with their buying preferences and their ability to influence public opinion in social media, they can make more effective pressure to get brands to commit resources for saving and protecting the environment.
Consumers are going to the supermarket with an attitude of “casting their votes”. In other words, they select the brands that support the causes they support and prefer those that have practices that are friendly with a sustainable world.
For more info on the Luum Awards, go here.