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Brands Should Be Authentic in ‘Woke’ Marketing

Woke marketing allows brands to join the conversation.

Is your brand a-woken?

Corporations have been quick to realize that through the power of “woke” marketing, they can monopolize on current events, social injustices and heightened brand awareness in one fell swoop. However, brands need to be authentic in their approach to garner the right kind of attention.

Why Woke?

The idea behind being a woke brand is as simple as a realization. If a company aligns itself with a hot topic debatable in pop culture, it can not only spend time in the spotlight, it can also fight a cause it feels passionately about.

Consequently, the bigger the budget, the larger the a-wokening. As well, the larger the return on investment. That is to say, people are happy to flock to the brand that supports not only their ideals, but their needs.

How Woke?

Of course, a woke brand doesn’t happen overnight. A woke brand is one that has done a fantastic job of pinpointing its culture, mission, vision and value proposition in the marketplace.

A woke brand is one that has done a fantastic job of pinpointing its culture, mission, vision and value proposition to the marketplace.

Above all, it has spent oodles of time being a visionary of its products or services, before locking down on how it can align itself with the most recent social snafu that has gone viral.

It also has an infrastructure that authentically incorporates social responsibility into its daily rituals.

For example, the credit union industry’s social responsibility of choice is children’s hospitals. As a result, it gives untold dollars and volunteer hours per year to this worthy effort. It owns this platform fully, and develops annual budgets, events and marketing tactics to support it.

Who Woke?

The fact is, with big risks come big rewards … or failures. Many brands have tried to a-woken, and some have done it better than others.

Here are some examples of brands that tried on their woke marketing hats, and caused a stir:

  • The first series of ads I recall being woke—long before that was a term—are from Dove soap. They emphasized the beauty in every woman, no matter her shape, size or color. The goal? Stripping away insecurities.
  • Nike’s bold ad featuring Colin Kaepernick. The movement? “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
  • Proctor & Gamble’s Gillette received some serious backlash with its We Believe: The Best Men Can Be commercial. It’s movement? #MeToo
  • Pepsi garnered the support of Kendall Jenner to appear in its woke ad (which it then pulled). It’s movement? Unclear, but it does encourage us in one shot to “join the conversation.”

Woke Up!

The fact is, if done wrong, a woke ad can harm a brand. Long gone are the days of believing that all PR is good PR.

SNL makes fun of the woke marketing movement with this video espousing “Levi Woke’s” jeans. It features Ryan Gosling, and the 180 degree zipper engendered a snort-laugh from me. The movement? One size fits all. Don’t ask about my size, ask about my #accomplishments.

Signing Off…

When it comes to woke marketing, just as in any other marketing: Simply be authentic.

Simply be authentic.

Brands trying to capitalize on the latest cheap trick are easy to spot. And consumers always get the last laugh.

About Jill Collins

Jill Collins at j.comm marketing is a marketing and data professional who specializes in breathing new life into brands, and finding money in nonprofit donor databases. She is a proven and trusted partner when it comes to understanding an organization and its culture. Her talent lies in marrying a client’s wants and needs with logistics. Give Jill a shot. She won’t let you down.