Wednesday, June 3, 2020

A Social (media) Experiment - When Brands Take a Stand

So I realize that, once again, I'm about to veer into territory that will possibly upset some.  To be clear, I am not going to try to change anyone's mind. I am going to try and focus here just on the facts, and offer a smidge of opinion.

As many of you who view your social media posts more than twice a day will likely be aware, yesterday was Black Out Tuesday.  Essentially a day where many posted all black photos in support of the protests currently taking place across the US.  And it is important to be clear, supporting peoples right to protest does not de facto equate to supporting riots and vandalism, just as supporting the police does not necessarily mean supporting police misconduct.  These things are not mutually exclusive.

And as it happens, a few watch brands threw in their support and posted images in support of this growing movement.  Bell & Ross, IWC and Timex were the big ones that I noticed.  And for the record, I applaud these brands for their stance.  Yes, they took a stand, they made a VERY public statement, and then...

Well, that is when the haters came out en masse.

Now, I am old enough and wise enough to know that you are about as likely to change someone's mind in a social media exchange as you are to find a cure for cancer in one afternoon in a middle school lab... but wouldn't it be great if you could ; )

Comments started with "Stick to Watches"  and degenerated from there.  

Now regardless of which side of the current divide you find yourself, I want to posit a simple question -

If you are of the belief that a brand or company should not comment on anything social, political, delicate (i.e. Watch Brands can have their opinion, but they should keep it to themselves), do you not find it ironic that you feel so compelled to post negative commentary about it?  In other words, what is it that is really upsetting you? I would posit that it is entirely possible that in some instances, some of these angry people posting aren't really concerned about the brand taking a stand in general, but rather about what that particular social statement is.  

In my consulting work I have learned that there is a very fine line between trying to do what's right and upsetting someone.  As I often say, we can all agree that puppies are good and cancer is bad, and heaven help the poor "Cancer Puppies".  But it creates a challenge for any company to try and be socially responsible.

What I took away from this social media experiment was that there is still a very, very deep divide in the US.  I also discovered that there are a lot of white males based in Eastern European countries who are apparently deeply concerned that America is being torn apart by brands making a social statement...

I would like to think that maybe, just maybe what motivated some of these brands to take a stand is all a bit more simple, and far less sinister than some people want to make it.

In the US, right now, there is a growing movement.  Young and old, male and female, and pretty much any race you can name are coming together in these protests across the country.  They are hoping for change.  And for those who are happy with things just as they are?  I get it, change is scary.  While you might not agree with it, while it might make you uncomfortable, you can't really deny it is a real movement any more than you can deny that the earth is round and gravity exists.  And curious to relate?  Brands are not merely office buildings and factories.  Brands are made up of people.  

Regardless of where you stand on this, I wish you all peace.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you James, well written and well said. I personally appreciate when brands have opinions. Because it means they are taking a stand and taking a chance that those opinions may not be popular with some of their existing or potential customers. I wouldn't go so far as to say it is brave, but it is risky and I appreciate them taking what may be an unpopular stance in the sake of doing what is right for the country over what is right for the bottom line (or personal gain, be it money or power).