Woke Marketing and Businesses
Why companies are increasingly interfering with social issues and why their actual product is receiving less and less attention.
In the mid-2010s, many businesses bought into the notion that philanthropy was the future of marketing. Got a sub-standard product? Does your customer service suck? No matter, your business gives cash to charity, so it’s all good!
As cynical as I might sound, I’d suggest I’m nowhere near as cynical as those businesses who made how much good they do a central pillar of their marketing strategy. There’s doing good and having things like social responsibility strategies. And there’s humble-bragging about how much of a difference you’re making. Many of us thought this state of affairs was utterly absurd.
However, the continuing rush among businesses to proclaim themselves as virtuous or “woke” as possible is taking things to another level.
Like most things, this starts at the top
In the last few years, Google has introduced badges that tell us if a business is:
- LGBTQ+ friendly
Why does Google need to highlight if a business is owned by a woman? Do people need to specifically shop at companies that women own because they can’t succeed without the additional support?
Positive Discrimination in Marketing
On a similar note, what does the ethnicity of a business owner have to do with anything? In Google world, if you’re lucky enough to be black and a business owner, you might get extra visibility on Google Maps, driving more people to your website and location.
The Kringloper Almere is fortunately blessed with two badges!
There’s lots we can say about the LGBTQ+ friendly badge. What does this even mean? Does a business failing to display it mean they’re not nice to members of the LGBTQ+ community? Might people even be put off visiting such a business because it appears they may only cater to this community?
On top of all this, we must surely ask the question about “positive discrimination.” For example, what badge, support, or additional visibility does Google give you if you’re a straight white man who owns a business? We can argue all day about them “not needing it,” but they will do if things continue as they are! By misguidedly trying to solve one problem, we’re just laying the foundations for creating another.
Cancel culture in marketing?
It feels like initiatives to support those genuinely in need have become things being done just because it looks good and speaks to certain parts of society. Are businesses like Google scared of being “canceled” or something if they don’t play along?
Woke marketing and "show your pride"
Under Armour’s “Pride collection” shows how fed-up people are getting with woke marketing
Under Armour is one of the world’s most popular sportswear brands. Whether you want to buy apparel for fashion purposes or for working out, you can always find something worth wearing. But where Suitsupply made clever use of the psychology of resistance in their tantalizing campaigns, Under Armor goes one step further with the product itself. Earlier this year, Under Armor launched its latest “Pride collection”.
The top comment in the image below gives a small flavour of the degree society, in general, is starting to get fed up with this stuff.
As a global society, we seem to be talking more and more about inclusivity yet keep adding labels to everything, which often does little but create more division.
We’ll eventually end up in a situation where brands end up being “cancelled” because they’ll be tripping over themselves to be more woke and inclusive than someone else. If you’ve ever stumbled into a Twitter argument between people arguing who’s the most virtuous, it’ll look exactly like this.
Show your pride in Word
Not to be outdone in the stakes to see who the most woke tech company is, Microsoft added the below feature to Microsoft Word this summer
I’m not sure how often people use this – or even how many people even know it’s there – but it seems like the most pointless feature around.
“Showing your Pride in Word” doesn’t make your writing any better. Although depending on the purpose of your writing, you might find a client who loves it or a teacher who wants to give it a higher grade!
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Bizarrely, Heineken also got involved!
Sticking to the theme of discrimination, Heineken recently got into hot water thanks to an advertising campaign that appeared to promote vaccination against COVID-19.
Many pointed to Heineken’s role as a principal partner of the World Economic Forum. Get vaccinated so you can go to a bar, drink our beer and keep cash flowing through the economy!
While it’s really thoughtful of Heineken to get involved in health (or political!) campaign, the unmistakable smell of hypocrisy lingers in the air. The World Health Organization cites alcohol as a factor in around 5% of all global deaths, comfortably putting it in the top five causes and contributors of mortality. Heineken is happy for you to drink its beer and cause health problems with alcohol, though. It isn’t profitable for you to die of something else!
Businesses ought to focus on business!
Businesses undoubtedly have a role to play in the evolution and shaping of society.
However, that role cannot involve creating division! If trying to do things with good intentions ends up being discriminatory, this stuff needs dealing with rather than just brushing it under the carpet. It’s incredible how many people quickly point to concepts like “white privilege” as an excuse as if two wrongs suddenly make a right.
If businesses truly want to be inclusive, they should get back to focusing on business. Create great products and services that people want to use, and nothing else will matter.
ESG Score & Woke push from companies
Our “own” Adam has a good explanation for the woke marketing trend. The so-called ESG Score. Is this a new trend? Watch the excerpt from Joe Rogan.
You can't escape it
Eva Vlaardingenbroek moved to Sweden in February 2021 and was confronted with a real woke session during a museum trip:
“So I was in the Swedish National Museum here in Stockholm the other day and what was supposed to be a nice experience surrounded by historical richness and beauty turned into a woke brainwashing session that made me lose my cool. So you know how in museums they have these little description signes next to all the artworks to say something about the artist, the title of the work and usually a descriptive text about the style of the work.”