Taking a Stand Used to Be Taboo in Business. Now, It’s Almost Required.


4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


I started my career in brand management at Johnson & Johnson, a classic packaged-goods marketing organization within a top pharmaceutical company. My first assignment was on Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. I was twenty-six years old and I’d never held a baby in my life. I was very low on the learning curve!

Johnson & Johnson was a conservative company at the time, as were many, and we followed a classic marketing approach driven by insights and fueled by creativity. We typically targeted new moms, and in fact, my thinking was considered radical when I suggested we should consider dad in the equation.

We would never comment on a social or political issue. No way, no how. Why would we risk alienating a portion of our consumer base? Back then, even the slightest move sparked a boycott, and we were terrified of the backlash.

When I took over the marketing lead for Clean & Clear, we were the first Johnson & Johnson brand to advertise on MTV, and several activist groups threatened to boycott. I argued that we were merely reaching our target audience of teenage girls on an entertainment property that they frequented. That was about as far as I could push it — going anywhere any further was taboo.

My, how things have changed! Blame it on the digital revolution, millennials, social media or brands becoming more active in communities. Probably all of the above. 

Whatever the reason, brands are now breaking taboos and taking a stand on social issues that matter.

They partly have no choice, which is funny because I felt like I had no choice to make that sort of stand back in the day. Consumers now want to know where a brand stands on issues that matter to them. They’re looking for brands to make a positive impact on the world. 

Patagonia is suing the government over the protection of public lands. Nike is supporting its athletes in their personal passions, be it social or otherwise. Dick’s Sporting Goods changed its policies about gun sales, after yet another mass shooting. Starbucks is working to address racial bias.

These brands know what matters to their consumers, so they are taking matters into their own hands to have an impact. We’ve never seen this before. It’s always been taboo.

But not every brand should take a stand on every issue. As a brand manager, how do you know where to go?

How to find out what matters.

Look to your consumers, your customers, your employees and any other constituents that matter to you and find what matters to them. Talk to them, follow their social channels, discover their influencers and uncover their concerns. If they are concerned about a particular issue, then you should be too.

I would encourage you to take some meaningful action. Keep in mind that it doesn’t always have to be controversial. To this day, Johnson & Johnson supports careers in nursing because nurses are central to healthcare. NYU grants free tuition to its medical studies to keep the pipeline of medical professionals robust. Countless brands and organizations are working to close the pay gap. Not a lot of controversy in any of those issues, only opportunities for brands to bring about change that matters.

You don’t even have to take a public stand. Understanding a social issue and being conscious about its importance may be all you need to do. That understanding can help shape your overall programming, and just acknowledging the issues may be enough for your business.

Certainly, that can’t be taboo anymore.

Source

more recommended stories

  • Should You Take out a Loan for Commercial Real Estate? How to Decide.

    When it’s time to expand your.

  • So You Want To Be a Sports Agent? Here’s What You Need to Know.

    Harrison Gaines, CEO of SLASH Sports.

  • Make the Choice to Be Positive

    Jon Gordon shares his thoughts on.

  • Post Malone Launches Shaboink Hemp Pre-Rolls and Announces Partnership With Icon Farms and Sherbinskis

    Post Malone, singer and founder of.

  • Most U.S. Cannabis Cultivators Choose to Compete on Quality Rather Than Cost (Chart)

    Many wholesale growers are focusing on.

  • How to Build a Community Around Your Brand

    July 19, 2019 2 min read.

  • 5 Science-Backed Ways to Boost Your Creativity

    These tips could revolutionize your approach.

  • Use This Green Beret Method to Find Out if Someone Is Trustworthy

    Thinking about a new partnership? Check.

  • 9 Airbnb Rental Tax Deductions You Can Take for Your Vacation Properties

    Maximize your short-term rental tax savings.

  • The Unheard Voices of the Cannabis Social Equity Movement

    It’s fallen to the legal cannabis.

  • How to Make Money in the Freight Brokering Business

    One expert’s insights into taking advantage.

  • Jay-Z Gets Into the Pot Game (60-Second Video)

    Your weekly rundown of the biggest.

  • 3 Female Leaders Share Their Secrets for Starting and Growing a Business

    These lessons are a reminder that.

  • 6 Easy Steps to Making Connections That Make Money and Create Happiness

    Transform your career and make money.

  • This Female Founder Fought to Stay in the Game And She Just Raised $3 Million in Funding from Serena Williams, Mark Cuban and Arlan Hamilton

    July 15, 2019 5 min read.

  • Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals

    Attend this free webinar and learn.

  • How Digital Marketing Changed the 2016 Presidential Race and Will Change 2020’s.

    As an entrepreneur, there are certain.

  • NFL’s Calvin Johnson and Rob Sims Talk Cannabis: It’s ‘A God-Given Gift’

    Two battered former players who never.

  • 3 Ways AI Can Help Businesses Improve Customer Relations

    The power of AI can lead.

  • 4 Essentials for Complying With the New Data Privacy Regulations

    Consumers need reassurance and protection from.

  • Why This Entrepreneur Says to Check Your Ego at the Door

    July 13, 2019 1 min read.

  • CNBC’s Tim Seymour Talks About Cannabis M&A, Private Vs. Public Markets

    Cannabis is good investment, unless you.

  • 3 Areas Where Enterprise-Focused Startups Are Poised to Make an Economic Impact

    How do you improve efficiency by.

  • What Really Causes Depression?

    Here’s what every entrepreneur needs to.

  • The Unexpected Philosophy That Led Me to My Biggest Closed Deals Ever

    Forget the conventional sales wisdom; if.

  • How This Founder Overcame Challenges He Never Saw Coming

    This entrepreneur and Yale dropout hoped.

  • How to Make Promising Opportunities Come to You

    Grow your business and personal passion.

  • Sacrifice Your Way to Your Dream Job in Sports

    This former mailroom worker talks about.

  • Jay-Z Gets Into the Pot Game

    The legendary rapper/entrepreneur got 99 problems.

  • Fitness Professional Jay Dang on Why Confidence Is the Key to Success

    You have to earn it. July.

  • WarnerMedia’s HBO Max Launches in 2020, and It’s Bringing ‘Friends’

    The streaming service will come loaded.

  • 6 Quotes on Business and Life From Billionaire and 2-Time Presidential Candidate Ross Perot

    The philanthropist died on Tuesday at.