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Brands profit from social activism

News, 02 March 2016

LONDON: Brands are increasingly using social activism to drive business impact, latest results from the Warc 100 have suggested.

Many of the top-ranked campaigns on the list, which was announced by Warc this week, referenced a social movement or general social justice issues. These campaigns came from a range of categories, including feminine care, sportswear, retail and food.

The Warc 100 is an annual list of the world's best campaigns, agencies and brands, based on their performance in effectiveness and strategy competitions in the previous calendar year. To compile this year's rankings, Warc tracked more than 2,000 winning campaigns from 79 different competitions.

Following the success of Unilever-owned brand Dove over the past decade (and sometimes dubbed "The Dove Effect"), marketers around the world have learned that taking a strong, socially progressive stance can help drive business impact.


This need for brands to be seen as good corporate citizens has informed many top-performing marketing strategies, as is reflected in several top-ranked campaigns including #LikeAGirl (ranked second on the Warc 100), which aimed to boost women's self-confidence via an integrated campaign combining social, digital and TV.

Three other campaigns in the top 20, I Will What I Want (10th), Touch the Pickle (12th) and This Girl Can (20th), also took female empowerment as a key creative driver.

Elsewhere, food waste was the social issue forming the focus of Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables (fourth), in which retailer Intermarché created special sections in its store to showcase produce that would otherwise have been considered too "ugly" to be publically displayed, and sold them at a discount.

While most brands choose relatively uncontentious causes, there are exceptions to the rule that embrace controversy. For This is Wholesome, ranked seventh on the Warc 100, US brand Honey Maid took a braver stand and selected a potentially divisive topic: celebrating alternative family structures. It introduced the creative theme with a TV ad, then carried on the conversation through social media, ultimately achieving an increased market share.

You can read full results from the Warc 100 on warc.com/warc100, and also view a summary of results. Warc subscribers can also read the full case studies for the winning campaigns, including Penny the Pirate, ranked number one this year.

Data sourced from Warc