The Why of Taking a Stand

It’s no secret one tactic for brands is to make a big splash just to gain attention (Lady Gaga meat dress anyone?) But with everything, there should still be a solid why behind those actions.

That’s why I’m a little puzzled by Kenneth Cole’s recent ad campaign.

The Kenneth Cole Foundation launched this AWARENESS campaign where they tackle various issues with outdoor, Web and of course, merchandise.

You can read the mediabistro blog for the PR firestorm they recently came under for the Teacher vs. Student rights campaign where they backed off, then defended their position. At the time of writing this post, the AWARENESS site asks about the electoral process or if we suffer from “electile dysfunction.”

So this brings me to my point: The Why.

Why does this foundation feel the need to take such harsh stances on these particular issues? I think corporate responsibility and community involvement is a vital part of a marketing and PR effort. Not only for the publicity, but to be a good partner where they do business. Holding “bad” teachers accountable only isolates key customers from your brand. Anyone in the education field will tell you it’s a complicated issue, not something that can be solved in a Facebook like or a billboard. And proclaiming electile dysfunction without providing some kind of actionable way to bring about change seems irresponsible to me, too.

When brands are choosing their community involvement, I recommend choosing issues and organizations to partner with very carefully and determine a clear objective to any tactic. Sometimes a seemingly controversial stance is beneficial and should be well-calculated. But be ready to defend your reasoning, all-the-while getting the attention of your target audience.

And the effectiveness of the electoral process? That’s the discussion of another blog post.