February 5, 2023

Digital Marketing Education

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Activist advertising—how brands and agencies can work for positive change

Here are three ways we can commit to work that creates positive change: 

Recognize the opportunity   

Advertisers have the unique ability to imagine and deliver different futures. That is our core reason to exist, and the biggest brains and talents in our industry tend to be drawn toward the biggest problems and challenges they can find. Pitches give an exciting, open space for creativity, yet we often drain our brain power on work that will never see the light of day.

Imagine if we committed that same passion and rigor to activist causes as well. Ad agencies are full of critical thinkers and problem solvers—which is exactly what makes for a great activist. These causes are complicated, which is why they are still not resolved. Therefore, applying agency talent to the activist world is a win-win—with more of the same kind of brains and hearts allocated to what we most care about.

And refocusing our efforts and embracing the role of activists within our organization wouldn’t just help reframe a negative narrative surrounding the industry, it would energize our most brilliant talent, enrich and focus our agency’s culture and do some good in the world and communities we live in. 

Work like activists

Activists and advertisers aren’t that different—we’re both invested in solving impossible problems. But before we can join them in the trenches, advertisers must learn to operate like activists. That starts by thinking beyond immediate gratification. Activists know great change takes time—decades or centuries even. Advertisers are built to show immediate results. Say goodbye to traditional KPIs and embrace the process instead. 


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