I’ve written here that I think Nike may have been justified in their recent choice of ad spokesmodel (you know the one I’m talking about). I have also written here that I do not believe the assorted pubs, doughnut shops, and mattresses gleefully posting meme-worthy content on their social channels after the Sec 377 verdict were similarly justified. Hypocrisy much? Well, you decide.

To my mind, the most critical question of this discussion is not whether the cause itself deserves support or not. There’s no doubt the big things being spoken of here, race relations, nationalism, respect for law and order, equality in love, et al are worthy of support from every decent human being out there. This also does not mean that it’s only up to individuals, not brands, to take up such worthy causes. In fact, I would go as far as saying that brands should be deeply concerned about creating a positive impact in the lives of their customers, employees, and the society that they serve.

My key issue is more whether a brand should dive into a particular debate or not? I believe that there is only one question for the brand to answer and that is, “Does this cause resonate with our core values and purpose?” If the answer is “Yes”, then there is valid reason to add your muscle to the messages out there. If the answer is “No”, and you are tempted to surf a giant wave only because it’s there, then I would recommend restraint. In the first case, you will appear authentic and gain the trust of a genuine audience. In the second, you risk being seen as opportunistic and superficial – all for 15 minutes (if that!) of fame.


(This Perspective was originally published on September 18, 2018 by Shekhar Badve on LinkedIn)