Activist campaigns are proving successful and on the increase at a time when consumers expect brands to play a role in improving the world around them. While consumer engagement is important, the most successful will go beyond that into becoming movements and driving real-world action.

Definition

Activist campaigns appeal to people’s sense of injustice or desire to do good and provoke them to take action for change. Traditionally, activist strategies are most common to non-profit or political organisations. But, in recent years, brands are also getting on board and taking cues from grassroots activism.

Key Insights

1. Activist campaigns can deliver real change while benefiting the brand

Supermarket chain Carrefour set out to use its leadership position as one of the world’s biggest retailers to change the law, which considered many healthier varieties of seeds illegal. It decided to defy the law by creating illegal Black Supermarkets in its stores nationally in France, which sold ‘illegal’ cereals, fruit and vegetables. A digital and social media driven petition generated over 80,000 signatures, eventually resulting in a new EU law on organic agriculture which relegalised the seeds in question. As well as selling out of the ‘illegal’ produce, Carrefour transformed its image with an 8% point increase in brand love and becoming the preferred French retailer. The campaign won the Grand Prix for Creative Effectiveness at Cannes in 2019.