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. Companies traditionally avoided becoming involved in politics, but this is changing

Airbnb, the online travel marketplace, has adopted an openly political stance on many contentious issues in pursuit of embodying its corporate values. The brand relies on a culture of openness, tolerance and exploration, meaning these issues are natural subjects for it to address. Airbnb’s forthrightness in airing its political views is a significant departure from corporate strategies of even a few short years ago, when companies determinedly would avoid officially advancing a perspective on divisive subjects. But with brand safety worries, social polarization, threats of product boycotts and online activism all reaching new heights, remaining silent is increasingly no longer an option.