When is—and isn’t—it appropriate for firms and brands to take political stances? Two commentaries, published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing‘s special issue on political activity, weigh in.
Commentary: Brand Activism in a Political World
Christine Moorman, Duke University Professor of Business Administration, Creator of The CMO Survey, and Journal of Marketing Editor in Chief
I started The CMO Survey in 2008 with the mission to collect and disseminate the opinions of top marketers in order to predict the future of markets, track marketing excellence, and improve the value of marketing in firms and in society. Since February 2018, I have been tracking marketing leaders’ response to the following question: “Do you believe it is appropriate for your brand to take a stance on politically-charged issues?” At that time, only 17.4% replied “yes”—a response that has risen only slightly to 18.5% in the February 2020 survey (The CMO Survey 2018, 2020). There is heterogeneity in company responses, with 40% of retail/wholesale companies and 33% of tech companies responding “yes.” Likewise, bigger companies, measured by annual sales revenues of over $500 million and companies with more of their sales revenue over the internet, responded “yes” at 44% and 26% rates, respectively.
Commentary: Patagonia and the Business of Activism
Vincent Stanley, Director of Philosophy at Patagonia
As I write this—many weeks into the time of COVID-19—I look forward to the day I can do a few simple things I once considered normal: buy my own groceries, eat at the same table with friends, travel to the places I ordinarily visit, and meet colleagues in person rather than through the looking glass of Zoom or Microsoft Teams. I know also that the world has changed and that “normal” will never be the same.