Are you prepared to be this brave for your customers?

Bodyform Contagious image

In the early part of December I was lucky enough to attend the Most Contagious event in London. It is run by Contagious, one of the leading, global creative and strategic intelligence services and the event aims to provide an appraisal of the year’s most innovative and influential brand campaigns, events, technologies, start-ups and emerging trends from around the world.

The event was kicked off by Paul Kemp-Robertson, co-founder of Contagious, and Chris Barth, it’s Lead Strategist, who were talking about their new book: The Contagious Commandments: Ten Steps to Brand Bravery.

Now, Contagious have been at the forefront of thinking about what it takes for brands to stand out in a noisy and crowded marketplace for years now and the commandments that Paul and Chris have compiled are their reflections on what they see is required from brands if they are to thrive now and in the coming years.

Of all of the commandments that they talked about it was the last one: ‘Be Brave’ that really stood out for me.

That commandment suggests that although studies show that the brains of business people subliminally equate creative (i.e. new and risky) ideas with poison, vomit and agony, creative work is 6 times more effective than non-creative work.

Personally, I don’t see enough of that sort of bravery when it comes to brands in the marketplace right now.

Perhaps then it is business people that are holding brands back.

One business person, however, that didn’t hold back was Martina Poulopati, global brand communication manager at Bodyform (Libresse in some markets) owner Essity, who told the story of their “Blood normal” campaign which was created with their creative agency, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

In choosing to run the #bloodnormal campaign they became the first advertiser ever to depict period blood truthfully.

That broke a whole heap of taboos and caused all sorts of friction.

Despite that they have achieved a huge amount of success with the campaign, which is both challenging and changing the narrative around women’s periods.

But, the part of the story that stood out, in addition to the market and commercial success of their campaign, was the level of bravery that was needed by Martina to bring this campaign to fruition.

At one point, things got so fraught that Martina was recorded as making the following statement:

“I’m going to lose my job. But, let’s do it anyway”.

That level of commitment to doing the right thing for customers is rare. But, it is also inspirational.

As it turns out Martina didn’t lose her job but has been, and rightly so, lauded for her efforts.

Moreover, that campaign has gone on to win a whole heap of awards and has emboldened Bodyform to take on even more taboos.

In an interview for Campaign, Martina suggested that she hoped that their success and experience would inspire and pave the way for other brands to take on their own causes so that they too could drive change in social attitudes.

And, customers are waiting. Waiting for brands to show up and stand up.

According to Edelman’s 2018 Earned Brand Study, 64% of all customers say they will choose, switch, avoid or boycott a brand depending on their stand on social or political issues.

So, the question seems to be, how brave are you willing to be for your customers?

And, are you willing to be Martina brave?

If not, then who is? Your competition?

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This post was originally published on Forbes.com here.

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