Tag Archives: Coca-Cola

Brands Taking Responsibilty For Inspiring Social Change: Dove’s “Real Beauty” Sketches as a Dialogue-Starter


In today’s consumer culture driven world – especially here in the United States, brands are starting to become a required participant, if not leader, of conversations about social change.   It’ s part of a macro trend related to empowered consumerism and the shifting balance of power between civil society, government and corporations.  Specifically, government is becoming less and less the dominant force behind social change as civil society begins using their economic influence to encourage corporations (who rely on them to sustain their business) to use the power of their global marketing reach to make a difference.

The challenge for corporations (and brands in particular) is finding that social issue or cause that is relevant and credible and participating in a meaningful way.  This has actually become its own industry – but that’s a conversation for another day.

I have observed, in my study of consumer culture, the burden of the backlash for many of these corporations and brands.  On the one hand, you see a lot of big players  who try to do the right thing but then get dinged for “creating the problem” in the first place. It’s a “between a rock and a hard place” situation for many of these brands.  Coca- Cola is one example of a company / brand in the hot seat, which I  blogged about when they launched their campaign to help combat the growing obesity problem.

Today’s example, however, comes from some work I am dong with a global panel of Cultural Creatives.  When asked about brands they have affinity for, one participant in the dialogue talked about her “love / hate” relationship with the Dove Real Beauty campaign, and their latest Real Beauty Sketches (see below)

The issue is that, while many people find fault with the fact that none of the women are “traditionally” unattractive and they are mostly Caucasian, the work still sparks a conversation – and it’s the social conversation that is most important.  In this case, the dialogue is about how our perceptions of our own physical beauty are often a reflection of unnecessary insecurities put upon us by “others” as a result of media or other “smoke and mirrors” influences – and that these detrimental self perceptions can have a negative impact on how we interact with the world.

So, kudos to Dove and any other brand that takes a risk by starting a controversial conversation, because culture only changes when we test our boundaries encourage people to react.   A little bit of context shift goes a long way.

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Guest Blogger Feature: Coke’s Tom LaForge On “The New Logic For How To Succeed In Business”


Tom LaForge

Tom LaForge (Photo credit: sociate)

A client and friend of mine, Tom Laforge; Global Director of Human and Cultural Insights at Coca-Cola, sent me a note with the content below and asked if I would allow him a forum on my blog to express his thoughts.

My response was an effusive “but of course”.  I am always eager to hear and spread the thinking of thought leaders in brand strategy, marketing and research.  I have frequently gotten inspiration from Tom, who is a force for spreading the imperative of human understanding at Coca-Cola and a change agent who is helping direct the culture of global brands toward helping to make the world a better place.

I thank you for your insights, Tom.

THE NEW LOGIC FOR HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS

The overall environment in which business is operating is changing in a very simple way. Civil society is becoming more and more empowered every day. This is caused by a lot of things, particularly the internet which provides a ton of information and social media which allows them to share how they feel about that information. Social media also empowers them to do something about it. Smart businesses realize this trend will only continue. If it is not already the dominant force in your industry, it will be by 2020.

This is not a problem for companies that civil society likes. Which ones do they like? The ones that demonstrate that they “care and want for the wellbeing of others as they do their own.”

Business has always been about making money and it still is. What is now becoming increasingly clear is that the best strategy for making money is to be an ally with civil society. When everything a company does and says conveys that they “care and want for the wellbeing of others as they do their own” they are simply employing the most effective strategy for doing what they want to do – make money.

Alexis de Tocqueville called it “self-interest properly understood” by which he meant that you pursue your own self-interest in a way that does not impede others from pursuing their self-interests. Nobody wants to deny companies the right to pursue their own self-interest – they just have to do in a way that does not harm others. Simple.

So do people believe that your firm does indeed “care and want for the wellbeing of others as they do their own?” I hope so, because this is how your company will thrive! When consumers find a company that “cares and wants for the wellbeing of others as they do their own” they flock to it, they Tweet and Facebook about it, they become loyal to it. They recommend and love it.

This is the new logic for how to succeed in business.