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Is “Good” the new “Sexy”?

Posted on | February 24, 2010 | 2 Comments

By Christine K. Ryder

There is no shortage of “sexy” ads and, much to the delight of 20-25 year-old males, plenty of brands have gone the “butts and boobs” route to grab attention in their ad campaigns. I’m a fan of the campy, hyperbolic ones like those from Axe body spray or the classic Miller Lite ones with wrestling models. They are so absurd that they’re funny.

And you know what? These aren’t going anywhere because they elicit chatter about the ads and by transitive property, the brand. Sometimes the halo-effect is enough. But clearly, they break through the cluttered information landscape.

Undoubtedly, you’ve also noticed a trend of late, where marketers are using a story unrelated to their brand attributes to sell themselves. This sudden influx of corporate responsibility and cause marketing ads is no accident.

The grotesque abuse of excess that led to the recent recession has made many consumers do a 180 from bling and instead to looking at companies (and corporate leadership) whose core values align with their own.

According to a study by cause-marketing agency, Cone Inc:

  • (79%) Americans who are active on new media believe companies and nonprofits should use these channels to raise money and awareness for causes.
  • 60% have used some form of online or new media to support a cause, primarily through email (33%), Web sites (29%) and social networks (27%),
  • 85% of respondents say new media provides them with an opportunity to learn about new issues
  • (79%) Americans are inspired to support a cause through new media when they have the opportunity to choose which issue a company will support.

And my favorites:

  • 30% have made a purchase based on POSITIVE information learned about a product, company or brand.
  • 23% have switched brands or boycotted a company based on NEGATIVE information learned about a product, company or brand.

S.C. Johnson has had “A Family Company” as their tagline for years but really brought it home when they announced efforts to convert landfill methane to power for their manufacturing facilities, wind turbines for power at their corporate offices, and put their Greenlist initiative in ads.

And of course, going “green” isn’t the only hot topic in corporate responsibility.

How many of us had heard about Tom’s footwear before they were featured in an AT&T ad campaign? Think Pepsi’s “Refresh Everything” campaign is a revolution? You must have missed American Express’ “Members Project.”

But even “giving” isn’t the end-game.

Check out recent ads from Allstate and State Farm, perennial combatants in the insurance racket. Both companies are going after heart strings and a sense of responsibility, honor, and the human instinct to survive. As much as I love Dennis Haysberts voice, both commercials come off forced next to Liberty Mutual’s “What’s your Policy?” campaign.

Cause marketing/ corporate social responsibility is a way to connect with your audience within an agnostic environment. By aligning your interests and contributions to those of your consumers, you can forge a stronger relationship with them. You give yourself the legitimacy of commonality to engage them in conversation. You invite your consumers to share their thoughts, emotions, and concerns with you. You give people a reason to believe that your company is run by people … and that those people are good.

Social Media is intrinsically about conversations. Marketing is about increasing a company’s bottom line. Companies who want to market in the social media space should focus on doing well by doing good.

If Sustainability is the new Greed, then Good is the new Sexy.

Bring it back.


Christine K. Ryder is Director of Conversation Development @ ELASTICITY

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2 Responses to “Is “Good” the new “Sexy”?”

  1. Holly Buchanan
    February 25th, 2010 @ 4:18 pm


    I so agree. Understanding who a company is, what their values are, and the causes they support are now a part of women’s buying process.

    It’s one of the reasons why I stay at Kimpton Hotels whenever I can. I love who they are, and the values and causes they support. (they are also SUPER women and pet friendly – love that).

    I attend a lot of women blogging conferences and I notice which brands show up and are supportive of the conferences. I’ve changed brands in order to support those sponsors. That’s how strongly I feel. I hope companies will stand up and take notice of this.

  2. Barbaros Ozdogan
    June 26th, 2010 @ 5:10 am

    So true, the reason why I became a Chase customer 12 years ago was that they were sponsoring WTA tennis tournament in Madison Square Garden.

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