When Activism in Advertising goes Wrong

Rebecca Nicholson wrote an article summarizing the art of activism in advertising as a response after Pepsi pulled out its ad campaign less than 24 hours after its release. In the ad, Kendall Jenner joins a protest which catches her eye while she was doing a photo shoot. She walks with the people to the front line and hands over a Pepsi to a police officer and suddenly everything seems peaceful and the cause is a success. These sorts of campaigns have been rampantly used that Strawberry Frog, a cultural movement agency coins the term “movement marketing”. Big companies use this method of marketing as it appeals to the people, showing that they care for the same cause as its consumers. When done correctly, it can be a marketing success like the iconic “Pepsi Generation” slogan or the “I’d like to Buy the World a Coke” ad. However, with the rising use of the internet and social media, consumers can now give feedback instantly and that tool can backfire for these types of campaign. The Pepsi ad which was recently taken down had #boycottpepsi trending and created a backlash for the message it was sending or for the lack thereof. Another campaign which was taken down recently was the “white purity” ad by Nivea. Although its intent was innocent, social media users were quick to call the ad racist and promoting white supremacy. Despite it all, I still think that movement marketing will be continually utilized in the future.

Making America Wealthy Again

On March 28 2017, the story that struck me the most on NBC Nightly News was “the War on Coal.” NBC addressed the issue of how Donald Trump is “scraping” parts of the clean air act in order to give way for the coal industry. He is also trying to deregulate the act which makes coal tougher to mine in federal land. This was all done in the name of making “America wealthy again” and delivering on campaign promises. This story carries news values as it follows the value of timeliness. “The War on Coal” is something implemented very recently through the acts passed by Donald Trump. It also holds the value of conflict as there would be opposing interest from coal miners, to coal plant owners and to the environment. There is obviously a trade-off between profit generating and sustaining the environment which in turn impacts many people. This story also carries the value of human interest as it involves job creation that could be at the expense of people’s health. Lastly, when the name Donald Trump is mentioned, the news would somehow inadvertently carry the value of prominence. All these news values make this story newsworthy.

About Alia

My name is Alia and I am currently studying Finance and Economics. I come from Malaysia, the country which is most recently infamous for setting the stage for the death of North Korea’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam. Aside from the sensational tragedies that occurs in Malaysia which appears every now and then, I feel that Malaysia is truly a wonderful place. It cannot be denied that I have an inherent bias towards this opinion, but I must say, there has only been one person I know of who has ever said the country was dull, and that was due to the raining season. However, I am not blind to the faults that I see happen, as the country is marred by corruption, race politics and exploitation of resources. Thus, like any other idealistic millennials, I cry for change, but still lack proactivity working towards it. I am aware that this predicament of inactivity is a form of hypocrisy, but who knows, maybe within my undergraduate studies, I might get an impetus to start something substantial.

In the meantime, I have set my sight on exploring the Americas, for who knows when I will get to again once home. It’s a beautiful continent rich with nature, and not seizing the opportunity to explore would be criminal. However, the carbon footprint released every time I board a flight makes me bite my tongue, but that feeling fades as it is usually replaced by joy upon arrival. To have guilt turned around so fast, is almost nauseating and shameful to think of. It makes me sometimes wonder if I would win an election spearheading the cause of capriciousness. In honesty, I get appalled at people if they talk about the environment lightly, or have that it’s-not-my-problem attitude – but at the same time, I cannot justify my actions of travelling, buying cheap eggs made of polystyrene boxes, or not having the diligence to give up meat completely. There are just too many discrepancies in my principles versus my actions, which is really an ugly portrait to paint.  If I were a canvas, I would say that my childhood painted the background and now, I am seeing splotches of my main subject. Time will run its course to fill in all the other missing parts and I hope it would be something poignant.