The Brand Impact of Socially Conscious Advertising

While the evidence suggests that brands engaging in socially conscious advertising are more successful, we’d like to focus on how conscious advertising links core ethical values into the brand image

We launched a YouTube series at Channel Factory that provides an open platform to discuss this issue. “Conscious Conversations” is a part of our ongoing Conscious Project, an initiative that helps brands like yours consciously invest their media dollars and navigate the complexities of social platforms. 

What Is Conscious Advertising?

Socially conscious advertising integrates social responsibility into brand advertising, allowing businesses to evaluate what is important to them and connect with consumers on a deeper level.

Brands advertise in a socially conscious manner when they acknowledge their core beliefs and values, which connect those values to the company’s bottom line. Despite public trends or customer opinions, the brands hold steadfast to their values and beliefs. This signals integrity to customers and the general public. 

Socially conscious ads openly focus on an altruistic or social message. Examples include climate change, child endangerment, or voting rights. Such advertising can be subtle and soft or risky and bold. 

What Are Some Examples of Conscious Marketing?

The best socially conscious advertising is those ads that make an unforgettable statement. These take the viewers out of their own heads with jarring visuals, engaging content, and bold execution. They entertain, and their message stays with the viewer long after the commercial is over. Let’s explore three such ads that deftly link their brand’s core ethics with the brand itself. 

  1. Like A Girl: This engages an audience without preaching. A simple concept — exploring the “like a girl” trope — elicits thinking, laughter, and a swelling of pride for young girls everywhere. This is about more than just selling sanitary napkins. It aims to encourage a different kind of thinking and succeeds. 
  2. The Wind: This commercial is made with the artistry of a filmmaker. In the form of a man, the wind has an existential crisis and feels completely misunderstood. Then one day, he discovers a meaningful purpose: powering windmills. The actor’s performance, combined with expert cinematography and a whimsical musical score, leaves the audience looking at wind energy uniquely positively.
  3. Expletive Interest: Airbnb’s slightly risky ad was so well-done, with beautiful imagery, smiling people, and lighthearted music, that it remains with the viewer long after the commercial ends. It also has a slightly edgy sense of humor that appeals to customers and welcomes them in. They succeed in linking an empathic worldview and inclusiveness to their brand. 

How Does It Work?

Meaningful socially conscious ads consistently hold the viewer’s interest from first impression through purchase or engagement and beyond. 

A conscious brand elicits stronger feelings than brands that don’t align their values with their advertising. People feel more emotionally connected with businesses that take a moral stand, especially today. That’s the way it works. Socially conscious ads get a customer’s attention and appeal to their emotions. This, in turn, gets people’s brains working to think in different ways. Thoughtful ads elicit thoughtful responses.

Common Questions About Socially Conscious Advertising

What are some ways that I can improve social consciousness?

Customers today want to know about the impact of the things they buy. They want to know if the brands they support take steps to reduce environmental damage, source sustainably, and protect personal data. One of the most effective strategies to raise social consciousness is to increase your company’s transparency by making this information readily available.

While this step may look different depending on your brand’s mission and customer base, you can begin by sharing which social movements your brand supports and what steps the company has taken to lessen its environmental impact. To learn what your customers care about, your brand can use social listening tools, surveys, and market research. Once you know what matters to your customers, you can craft a social mission to guide the company’s efforts and communicate it through socially conscious advertising

Why is social consciousness important for brands?

Modern customers still care a lot about price, but they also pay close attention to the values of the brands they buy from. According to a recent industry survey, 82% of consumers prefer purchasing from brands whose values align with their own, and three-quarters of shoppers part ways with businesses over a conflict in values. 

The majority of today’s consumers are also interested in supporting sustainable brands and are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly alternatives. Moreover, 70% of consumers believe it’s vital for brands to take a stand on social and political issues. 

These shifts in consumer behavior and preferences showcase the importance of socially conscious advertising. For brands to gain the trust of their consumers, they should take a stand on the issues their customers care about and create advertisements that match their values. 

Why are consumers becoming more socially conscious?

The past few years were marked by unrest and concerns that shifted consumer behavior. The COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of climate change, and different social justice issues have made shoppers more mindful of their purchases and the brands they support. 

According to an industry survey, more than two-thirds of customers claim that the pandemic has made them more socially conscious customers. Consumers reveal that they support local or small businesses, as well as those owned by people of color, and that they carefully research brands to ensure that their values align with their own before supporting them. Moreover, modern customers now demand sustainable products and are willing to pay more for them. 

The digital age has made consumers more discerning about the brands they support, increasing the pressure on companies to be more socially conscious and take action on issues that matter to their customers. 

What are some ways that social consciousness impacts businesses?

The voice of the conscious consumer is louder than ever and is impacting how businesses create content and use their platforms. Among demographics, Millennials and Gen Zs have the highest expectations for businesses to take a stance on social issues. 

Brands use advertising campaigns to reach out and engage their audience. These shifts in customer expectations challenge businesses to find ways to align their marketing efforts with their customers’ values and the relevant social issues that matter to their market. This movement also encourages marketers to be more conscious of their audience targeting, especially on platforms like YouTube, where people turn for diverse content lacking in mainstream media. 

To succeed in today’s marketplace and gain consumers’ trust, businesses must incorporate inclusion, diversity, and environmental awareness into their marketing for conscious consumers. Brands should be active in social conversations about issues and injustices. By becoming a socially conscious business, you build trust and strengthen your stakeholder relationships in the long run. 

What is unconscious advertising vs. conscious advertising?

Traditional, unconscious advertising prioritizes driving sales over how advertising content and the entire purchase process impact the consumer. On the other hand, conscious advertising focuses on aligning the brand’s mission with the values of its customers. 

Socially conscious advertising features a people-first approach to marketing, helping brands embrace a more inclusive and respectful approach when reaching out to their target audience. For businesses, shifting to socially conscious advertising means letting go of irrelevant, biased, and poorly segmented marketing practices and embracing data-driven advertising that builds trust and better relationships with stakeholders. 

The Future of Advertising

As consumer preferences continue to shift, brands will be pressured to align their marketing efforts with their audience’s values and speak about relevant social issues. Businesses should actively listen to their customers and craft advertising strategies that speak to what matters to them the most if they want to thrive in the modern marketplace.

Channel Factory can help. We specialize in helping businesses create meaningful and brand-suitable content that engages audiences and improves brand perception. Reach out today to learn how we can help your brand incorporate socially conscious advertising.

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