It wasn’t so many moons ago that discussing your political stance wasn’t ‘the done thing’. However, that was before an age where you can go online to find out the shade of mustard Nigel Farage’s trousers in less time than it takes to say ‘Brexit means Brexit!’.
Social media has created a frenzy in which brands and users are jumping on political stances to increase reach and apathy amongst their followers and friends, but at what cost?
Last week, across the pond, we witnessed the semi-annual New York Fashion Week; a week-long showcase of new lines to buyers, media and the general public. Part of the ‘big four’ (Paris, London NYC, Milan shows), NYFW is integral to the fashion calendar.
Each year there is anticipation not only for the lines, but also around the creative direction of the shows. One only has to cast their minds back a few months to see the stir British luxury brand Burberry caused by broadcasting their show live on Snapchat and the fact they made their lines ready to buy straight after they were walked.
Innovations like this appear to play second fiddle in February’s agenda as politics took centre stage…
From the subtle, to the downright ridiculous (see F**k Your Wall Pants …), brands of all sizes were trying to get a piece of the fabric. It seems the more ridiculous the better…
Of course, there were examples of fresh innovations from British Vouge, getting on the ‘Chatbot’ hype at LFW, and Ralph Lauren converting their flagship store into a walking catwalk, which was open to the public to build on the ‘see now shop now’ trend.
However, these shows are a far cry away from the ‘Tech Steals The Show’ headlines of 2016…
This issue appears to go much broader than the fashion industry, with brands across the globe positioning themselves on one either side of the fence (or wall if you prefer …), placing more emphasis on politics rather than their product.
There is no doubt that it makes sense for brands to have a strong voice and opinion that resonates with their brand purpose, but when it becomes the front page of every trade press site or social media stream, it makes even the most relevant and exciting brands seem, well, rather dull. Quite the opposite of what they set out to achieve…
This is a dangerous game where there is no clear winner. Pick a side and alienate the rest, or don’t and get dropped from conversation.
What is worse to a brand, to be relevant due to the political landscape or not to be relevant at all?
I’m sure there are a number of brands who want to keep their heads down, focus on their work, making headlines that way, but in this crazy world where whoever shouts the loudest wins the PR prize, it seems the ‘nice guys’ really do finish last.
I, for one, am looking forward to the day the waters settle and brands get back to what they do best, focusing on their product/service and creativity.
If only we could apply 1950’s dinner party rules to the digital age…
By Jamie Johnston, Business Development Director for Acuity PR