Can swag help bring about social change? As discussed in the book Uprising: How to Build a Brand-And Change the World-By Sparking Cultural Movements, it quite possibly can. Let’s see how…
Recently, Uprising author Scott Goodson, of StrawberryFrog global/marketing advertising agency, connected with me asking if I’d like to review his new book. Always being interested in the latest and greatest in business and marketing books, I gladly accepted that offer!
Scott’s ad agency is on the cutting edge of the new marketing paradigm which marries brands with cultural movements and trends. Actually, it’s not that new; it’s just been happening more by default instead of design. Now, brands are (or should be) actively seeking ways to engage their customers, fans and stakeholders by aligning their organizations’ missions and messages with movements relevant to those they serve.
The (PRODUCT) RED cause marketing campaign is an example. Each of the partnering companies–which included such heavyweights as Starbucks, Nike, Apple, and American Express–developed a product that would feature the high profile (PRODUCT) RED logo and a percentage of the proceeds would go to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Africa. The book is replete with examples of cause and movement marketing being done by high profile, as well as more obscure, brands. One of the other high profile branding examples offered was the Lance Armstrong LIVESTRONG campaign which actually brings us back to the subject of this post which is the role that promotional products can play in social movements.
Did you realize that the ubiquitous yellow LIVESTRONG wristbands were actually supported by sports marketing powerhouse Nike? I didn’t either. Nike helped produce and pay for the wristbands, but let Armstrong be the face of the movement. No Nike swoosh here! Then Nike used their substantial clout to make sure that as many of their sponsored athletes as possible were sporting the wristbands. All the elements to a successful social movement marketing campaign came together: a great cause, a strong marketing brand, an inspirational public figure, a grassroots effort to help fight cancer and, of course, the iconic yellow wristbands which united all involved. (As a side note, more than 75 million of the wristbands have been sold with all proceeds going to support cancer survivors.)
As Scott notes:
And if you’re inclined to give out some cool movement themed swag in the process, so much the better. This is important not just at the early, getting-to-know-you stages of a movement, but also later, when events can be a way to keep a movement feeling vital and authentic…
Movement flags, T-shirts, banners, and the like have always been a part of movements; they’re one of the key ways in which members of a movement begin to identify one another and feel like part of a club with its own look and language.
Even though I am biased because I’m a distributor of promotional products, as a marketer, I couldn’t agree more. I would like to sincerely thank Scott Goodson for taking a pro-swag stance in his book. So many “marketing” books out there cast swag in such a negative light. Yet the symbolism these items can provide to brands and social movements cannot be ignored.
My favorite example of swag in the book was Hero Breath. Okay, you’re going to have to read the book to find out what that’s all about.
- Click Here to Buy Uprising by Scott Goodson on Amazon (Non-affiliate link. Disclosure: The publisher offered a free copy of the book so that I could do this review. But with its relevant and interesting topic, I would have been glad to recommend it anyway.)