Wednesday August 26, 2020 |Notes

When brands stand for social values

There's been a shift over the last few years where brands have taken action to stand for social values, despite the backlash the brand may receive from some of the angered customers. This shift has come more into focus this year, with the Black Lives Matter protests gaining worldwide recognition and momentum in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and Jacob Black, among others.

At the beginning of the year, Forbes published an article citing the problems of brands promoting social values, taking the position that brands weigh the costs of such a move.

Companies that want to promote other topics face a risk of consumer backlash. This includes speaking out about police brutality. Only one-third of the respondents would have a positive view of that. And large numbers would oppose companies speaking out about President Trump (41 percent) and the border wall between the United States and Mexico (37 percent).

Based upon numbers alone, this portrays it as risky for a brand to stand against police brutality or a border wall. There was a time when brands could play it safe, refusing to show their cards. Anyone who followed Michael Jordan or recently watched The Last Dance knows Air Jordan famously refused to support black politicians during his career, stating "Republicans buy shoes too."

Those days are no longer. Brands have risen and stand as beacons to unite people with similar beliefs. It's no longer enough to make a great shoe; the brand must stand for something greater and support betterment of some kind. Nike has certainly changed their tune and now famously supported Colin Kapernick well before it was widely-accepted.

Today, the NBA made history by postponing 3 playoff games. The Milwaukee Bucks started the movement and it's no surprise other players and league representatives quickly moved to support the boycott. The NBA has proven itself to be the leader in professional sports when it comes to social values and the value of the NBA brand has risen as a result. While the NFL and MLB continue to direct with a tone-deaf position coming from the top down, the NBA is a player driven league. The NBA brand takes stands that players support and at-large, fans have followed.

It's time to all brands to stop weighing the risks and analyzing the numbers of standing for social values. 2020 is already an historic year and the most impactful change is still to come, in the form of an election. The time to act is now. Nobody should look back with regrets at what more could have been done to prevent catastrophic damage to the country.

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