New York, NY -- Recently, two employees from Allidura Consumer and Biosector 2, public relations agencies within the inVentiv Health Communications network, lead a discussion about work they found inspiring and mapped it to an industry trend. Drawing on the current political climate in the United States, specifically the heightened focus on civil rights and public issues, they showed us three ways companies and brands have tapped into social causes in their communications and provided examples of each:

1.   Creating conversation without being the conversation

Companies are serving as mediators, creating a place to talk about issues without forming or expressing an opinion. Check out how Heineken accomplished this for their “Open Your World" campaign, by introducing complete strangers, allowing them to get to know each other intimately after a few moments’ time, and then exposing them to each other’s biases and beliefs.

Watch: Heineken’s “Open Your World”

2.   Tapping into controversy head on

Believe it or not, brands can tap into controversy without stirring the pot for themselves. By advocating for a controversial or even taboo cause, companies and brands can provide a platform that people can get behind. Take Addyi’s Women 2nd campaign, which highlighted the lack of support for a female version of Viagra. Through clever messaging with aggressive innuendos, the rallying cry was heard loud and clear.

Watch: Addyi, #womendeserve

3.   Creating a call to action for the cause,  not the product

It’s not every day that you see brands involved in policy, but for companies who serve a niche area of interest, there’s opportunity to take it a step further and truly commit to positive change. The Patagonia-sponsored campaign to “Crack Down on Deadbeat Dams” involved a professional documentary, a guide to grassroots activism, an online petition, and eventually a trip to the White House for the project team. The call to action was not to buy anything from Patagonia, but rather to join them in supporting the cause. 

Watch: Patagonia "DamNation Petition Delivery to the White House"

Why this matters:  A cause is defined as a principle aim or movement that, because of a deep commitment, one is prepared to defend or advocate. During the presentation from our PR teams it was clear that it’s important for marketers to understand an audience’s beliefs and attitudes about the world, beyond the product or service at hand. Leaning in to societal influences can provide a broad view into the many circles of influence that shape the way a person thinks and behaves. By tapping in to these motivators, brands can create fool-proof campaigns that never fall flat. So, define your conversation. Tap into a greater movement. And make your way into hearts and minds.

About the Author:

As a Marketing Strategist for Syneos Health Communications, Grace is responsible for leading programs designed to engage employees in the critical shifts changing our industry and client expectations. Facilitating strong connectivity between Syneos Health Communications and its Corporate and Business Line partners around the world is critical to Grace’s work. She has been with Syneos Health since 2014, working across the PR, Medical Communications and Advertising businesses. In 2015 she earned Impact Award for showcasing strategic collaboration, entrepreneurial spirit and extraordinary outcomes.