Business of Fashion Featured – Quynh Mai, Founder & CEO
Quynh Mai, founder of Moving Image and Content, a New York-based digital marketing agency that counts H&M and Sephora among its clients, couldn’t agree more. “There was a time when wading into political issues was an absolute taboo, but today it’s starting to become detrimental to a brand’s bottom line if they don’t take a stand,” she says.
Mai draws a comparison between brands breaking this taboo and the growing number of celebrities doing the same by “publicly and loudly” declaring their social and political views.
With Hollywood A-listers like Amy Schumer willing to get arrested for the #MeToo movement in protests over US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Rihanna declining to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show in support of aforementioned Kaepernick, the stakes are getting higher. Mai believes that celebrity interventions like these are now “making it harder and harder” for brands to stay mute on similarly controversial topics.
“As people lose faith in government, they feel like they have no voice, so they turn to other people, like celebrities, influencers and also to brands as bellwethers of culture and values,” says Mai.
“In the States in particular, they feel frustrated, disenfranchised and powerless against a failing political system…but they’ve learned they can wield some power through two ways: their pocketbook and their voice on social media.”
Corporate neutrality is completely finished.
“As brands become more human-like, they’ll have opportunities to deepen relationships with consumers beyond product. The upside to leveraging that deeper connection is to earn loyalty and insight, the downside is the risk of being more vocal about moral and political issues.”
“Aligning with your customer’s values creates an emotional pact that goes beyond the moment. Emotional connection drives loyalty, but also, and most importantly, advocacy — even if it’s just a tagged post of the brand on Instagram,” Mai explains. “In the years ahead, I predict that it will be difficult, if not impossible, for brands to stay apolitical.”
Watch Out For #Wokewashing
If Mai’s prediction is accurate, it foreshadows new challenges and dilemmas for brands going forward. Since most big social and political issues are interrelated, taking a stance on one can have implications on another, making the brand a lightning rod for opinions of all kinds. > READ ARTICLE