Patrick Hanlon, CEO of THINKTOPIA®—an innovative branding, marketing, consulting, and advertising firm—has the secret to brand relevance. Fortunately for us, he’s willing to share.
Q: Is there cause fatigue among consumers? How do brands keep their cause marketing efforts fresh and relevant?
A: No, I don’t think there is cause fatigue. I think that because of the vast number of celebrities who have adopted causes, awareness has been increased around a greater number of issues. The positive outcome of this is that people in the next generations are lining up their purchases with their values. Also, there has been an evolution in thought. Tom’s Shoes and Warby Parker eyewear are really not much different than VW and Levi’s in the 1960s, except for the extraordinary fact that they are publicly giving up a percentage of their profits. That’s a big deal. VW and Levi’s obviously gave to social causes, but they did it in traditional ways, quietly or through a foundation. The other big deal is that awareness of human and social values are no longer isolated in specific geographies—because of the awareness that the Internet creates, there is a global consciousness developing for countries that are plugged in. What’s important for cause marketers to remember is that the consumer fatigue you asked about is always possible. We live in a consensual economy where people can either opt in or opt out of participation. So it’s important to remain agile, to keep things fresh, to be iterative and follow your instincts, and most of all create new ways to excite the members of your community. This is true of all brand communities. It’s one of the reasons why Apple (and others) keep popping out new products, new reasons to listen.
You can find Patrick on Twitter @hanlonpatrick.
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