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Advertising Week 10th Anniversary Official Guide

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314 PERSPECTIVE a stronger consumer-brand relationship that extends well beyond simply just the buying of products. Consumers will defend and advocate for a brand if they believe that brand shares their values. The risk is being disingenuous. Consumers can spot a one-off or support for an issue based solely on fi- nancial reasons a mile away. Consumers will heap criticism upon a brand in an immediate and highly effective manner if they sense their position on an issue is insincere. I would also recommend steering clear of politics or partisanship. AW: What evidence have you seen that tell us consumers are buying from/align- ing with certain brands based on their principles? RE: The headline from our Earned Brand study this year was that more than half (57%) of consumers are now buying or boycotting brands based on its position on social or political issues. And half of the people we polled identify themselves as belief-driven consumers. AW: Is that a new trend? RE: Certainly, within the last few years we have started to see more of this. Social media and peer-to-peer conversation have made it easier to start and sustain movements either in favor of or in opposition to a brand. And again, going back to our survey, 30% of consumers say they are making these belief-driven purchases more than they did three years ago. AW: What have been the most immedi- ate effects of the fake news epidemic and some consumer's inability or unwillingness to differentiate between fake and verified, traditional media? How does this cross over into the brand, agency and marketing sectors? RE: The fake news issue has led to further distrust of the media. This has created a media echo chamber, which only serves to reinforce personal beliefs, shutting out opposing points of view and all but eliminating the chance for rea- sonable debate. The result is a proclivity for self-referential media and reliance on peers for news and information. The impact of this in our sector is that there is more desire by the consumer to be part of a conversation with brands. Smart brands will put the consumer in the position of partner and not just customer. AW: If you could predict what trends will dominate 2018 for communicators and marketers, what would they be? RE: More companies acting upon the idea that they need to be their own media company. I think we will con- tinue to see even greater convergence between the CMO and CCO and the merging of brand and corporate reputa- tion will only deepen. There will also be more and more brands stepping up in support of the issues of the day, includ- ing sourcing and job training. AW: What trends from 2017 do you hope to see more of? RE: I love the idea and ambition of brands using their power to push an issue—like HP and diversity, or Starbucks and refugee hiring. I also believe we will see more power and decision-making moving to the brand side away from the corporate center. •

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