Ethics and Brand Building In the Digital Age
Recently, I went after a job on a client that made a huge environmental blunder decades ago which has tarnished their reputation ever since. At first, I was hesitant, but then I did more research and learned the client had donated an incredibly large sum of money to charity and is working to improve their sustainability practices. During the interview, the strategy director mentioned the client knows they need to improve their sustainability practices - not just talk about it for PR's sake, but actually do good things.
As marketers, we're faced with this dilemma on a regular basis. We can feel good about working on clients like Nike, Google and Starbucks - knowing we're pushing not only a superior product but supporting sustainability or even an innovative employer. But the real opportunity is in getting those clients who once put profit first and foremost, to put customers first. It's getting those organizations who didn't care about sustainability to become more sustainable. Or those who weren't innovative to change their organizational structure to support innovation. It's getting the person who was a total jerk - the guy who said "my way or the highway" to realize that kind of behavior doesn't get him friends in this day and age. Is it black and white? Are certain organizations not worth helping? Is a culture of greed or lack of values so engrained that as marketers, we're better off letting them die as brands or can they be saved?
Or in the words of Olivia Pope's father on Scandal, are we, as cultural strategists, here to bring clients into the light?