4 ways brand managers can address social issues

Many of the ways PR and marketing pros insert their companies into controversial conversations can backfire. Here’s how to walk the line successfully.

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· How did they not see the issue?

· What kind of statement will they release?

· How will their brand be affected?

I love it when social issues are addressed in commercials. A company’s use of its brand platform to give consumers a voice is a beautiful thing.

How can you do that, though, without creating a PR crisis for your brand? Follow four easy steps:

1. Stay in your lane.

There is no credo easier to remember. When trying to incorporate social issues into your marketing strategy, consider whether it is even possible to make it about your brand.

In Pepsi’s case, it is quite easy to incorporate the issue into their campaign, as the product is used by everyone everywhere—but they took it too far. When Kendall Jenner offered the Pepsi to a police officer as a peace offering, I cringed.

Social issues are complex and have multiple layers; Pepsi cannot fix them.

My advice:
if you’re going to use a protest to market your brand, keep it realistic. A last scene of a protester and a cop drinking identical cans could have symbolized common ground—a starting point—which might have been digested a little better.

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