by Colwyn Elder (@colwynelder) Creating a consumer movement, as opposed to an ad campaign, is not new to the world of marketing but has certainly gained momentum over the past decade. The most obvious reason for this is the growth of social media, but I believe there is more to it than this.

colwyn elderCampaign vs movement

The word ‘campaign’ describes an operation intended to achieve a particular objective. In our industry, this usually means trying to convince a group of people to choose your brand over another. It’s planned, targeted and, most often, involves an element of persuasion.

A ‘movement’ is more organic, albeit equally premeditated. Movements tend to take on a life of their own, and people join a brand movement because of like-mindedness and shared personal values. In other words, you stand for something and people choose to be a part of it; they’re buying into what the brand represents and not just buying the brand.

Dove’s Real Beauty is a good example here. And while social media fuels the movement, providing the necessary engine to carry it across countries and cultures, the real driver is nothing less than our love of being a part of something that inspires us, because it matters.

Key element

Another key element of movement marketing is culture. Brands live within the context of culture and all the choices we make are influenced by this context. As this piece from Added Value says: “Culture is the stuff of life”. It’s also the stuff that matters and so attributes meaning to the things we buy.

Dove Real Beauty doesn’t overtly sell a brand benefit such as  soft skin or a key ingredient such as antioxidants; instead, it links the brand message to something that matters, a cultural need that stems from the cultural insight that only 4% of women consider themselves to be beautiful.

Acknowledging the role of advertising and media in this problem through the portrayal and promotion of unrealistic images of beauty, Dove saw an opportunity to do just the opposite. By rewriting the definition of beauty as something real and accessible, Dove created a broader role for the brand that serves to build women’s self-esteem. It also serves to build the brand.

As relevant as ever

According to Added Value’s Cultural Traction research, Dove is eight places ahead of key competitor Nivea in its global VIBE index and, despite running for a decade now, Real Beauty remains as relevant as ever. What’s more, it is the only packaged goods company to come within the top 10 “inspiring” brands worldwide.

So what makes Dove Real Beauty a movement? The idea of Real Beauty is something people care about, something that resonates, because it matters. It gives people a platform to support, and it satisfies our human need to belong to something bigger than ourselves — to be part of a collective action that makes the world a better place.

According to Cultural Traction, there is usually an element of social good embedded in the brand purpose of most inspiring brands: social good that favourably impacts individuals, communities and/or the planet.

Cultural change for good

So, perhaps it’s time to rethink your brand strategy, to consider the broader cultural context that gives your brand meaning, and to re-articulate your brand’s positioning as a brand purpose — one that has social innovation at its heart. Then start a brand movement that inspires and leads cultural change for good.

Y&R strategy director Colwyn Elder (@colwynelder) has 17 years of experience in strategic planning, together with specific credentials in sustainability communications, social marketing, corporate social responsibility and cause-related marketing. She contributes the monthly “Green Sky Thinking” column on sustainability issues to MarkLives.


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