Yesterday Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg published a 5.500 word document, described by the BBC as ’a global call to action’ and alternative manifesto to President Trump´s new policies.
The article raises some interesting questions. Yet some will argue that Zuckerberg is only promoting his own brand’s interests, at a time when globalisation seems to be on the retreat or as he puts it, ‘The thing I really care about is connecting the world’.
However, the timing was even more interesting, being released at the same time as Mr Trump´s press conference where he launched another of his ‘stinging attacks’ on the media.
The underlining message and implications for other leading brands and ’brand advocates’ cannot be ignored…. People matter, people’s lives matter – black, white, yellow, red and all the colours of the rainbow, loved ones matter, friends matter, communities matter and the values that bond us together matter and must be protected.
Why? Not long ago, during a walk on the beach my father asked me ‘what’s left once we die?’. I was shocked by the somehow implicit lack of empathy in his question. I replied, ‘values remain’. We share them, we pass them on to our children and they live on. Also they are key to define our humanity as an intrinsic part of our greatest love stories. Moreover, we could argue that as with all great love stories, authenticity, acceptance and communication are three key values or pillars of every happy long lasting relationship, personal as well as with our favourite brands.
Authenticity – because what really matters is what lies within, what´s at the core of who we are. If we have the courage to stand for who we are and what we believe in, at that moment true love will find us.
Acceptance – because it will bring us closer together. Our lives and circumstance shape who we are, therefore it´s crucial to recognise and accept that we can´t expect to change everyone around us, yet we should always try to improve ourselves.
Communication – because it generates understanding which in turn keeps the flame alive and free from miscommunication, misunderstanding, spin, half truths and fear, specially lately when ‘fake news’ are so often in the headlines.
That’s why it’s so crucial that we take these principles to heart now more than ever, specially at a time when some political leaders appear only too eager to promote the ‘good old times’ and disconnecting from a future moving at the speed of light ahead of them. Some go even further where instead of appealing to our best abilities and dreams, they exacerbate our worst instincts and fears. The result intended or not, only creates additional more division and mistrust.
In this context, the great opportunity is for brands to really stand for the values they claim in their ad campaigns. The Financial Times reported recently how some of them are leading the way and owning to their values, like Budweiser with their super bowl ad or Airbnb’s ’Belong Anywhere’ initiative to offer free accommodation for refugees affected by the recent travel ban to the US.
If they want to remain relevant many more brands should follow their example, for the brand-consumers conversation have shifted for good. Having evolved from being mere ‘consumers’ into more ‘conscious consumers’, we should hold brands accountable for their big claims on values. Or are old vague declarations of intentions or three paragraphed self-serving propositions, still good enough for this day and age?
Corporate claims and Brand values need to be clear, precise, consumer focused, fact-checked and followed with tangible deeds, the way WallMart, Apple, Marriott and other brands supported LGTB rights in their work places. Otherwise, brand promises will sound as empty as those of governments far and near, who appear to follow the politics of paranoia, rejecting their social contract and putting their own interests ahead of peoples’ and families’ human rights or basic needs.