For Brands, It Pays to Be Nice

For years, marketing focused on promoting a product’s features, competitive pricing or a lifestyle. But recent research shows that’s simply not enough anymore. At least 60% of Americans said that buying from socially responsible companies is important to them. This means brands need to find tactful, sophisticated but straightforward ways to advertise their good side. So who’s already done it?

1. Target and Education

One of the most discussed commercials a few years ago was a touching collage of video clips from high school seniors who have just learned that they’ve been accepted into college. The students’ responses range from tears to shouts of joy to dancing with the entire family. At the close of the commercial, the viewer reads: “Every kid deserves this moment. Great schools can get them here. Target is on track to give $1 billion to K-12 education by 2015.” Without talking about a single product, Target hopes to motivate potential consumers to shop based on their philanthropy. (More info: Target Warms Hearts with College Acceptance)

2. Tom’s Marketplace

How often do you come across a brand that is so committed to giving that they create a marketplace to help sell OTHER products with a similar commitment? Tom’s Marketplace is an online shopping portal that features over 30 socially conscious brands. With the support of WPP’s MediaCom, Tom launched a diversified brand campaign that included paid social, billboards in NY and LA, taxicab video spots, and search engine marketing and optimization. (More info: Toms Launches First Paid Media Campaign)

3. HoneyMaid’s Wholesome Campaign

When HoneyMaid aired a commercial about “wholesome” love that included interracial families and same sex couples, they received quite a backlash from anti-gay protesters. HoneyMaid was prepared with a loving response, but we won’t spool the secret. (More info: HoneyMaid and the Business of Love)

4. American Greetings and Mothers

Rather than the typical moving but timeworn overtures about the value of mothers, American Greetings posted a listing for the world’s toughest job to place a mother’s role in perspective. (More info: World’s Toughest Job)

It is often difficult to determine which brands are genuinely concerned about the issues and groups they highlight or primarily interested in making a sale. Nevertheless, using advertising to showcase a company’s benevolent attitudes and business practices is at least one clue to consumers that a brand is thinking about it.

What are some compelling brand stories you’ve seen in advertising that show a brand’s warm and fuzzy side?