Why are Businesses Focusing their Marketing Strategies on Social Causes?

This article was written by Strategic Sustainability Consultants, one of our proud corporate partners. I would be lying if I said I didn't feel an...

Why are Businesses Focusing their Marketing Strategies on Social Causes?

This article was written by Strategic Sustainability Consultants, one of our proud corporate partners.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel an evanescent sting behind my eyes when watching one of Telstra’s “The Magic of Technology” advertisements or one of Qantas’ “Our Spirit Flies Further” advertisements as I desperately blink repeatedly before a tear forms. I am completely ashamed that these ads affect me in such a profound way (I rarely ever cry), but the reality is that this marketing technique of pulling on heart strings is working – and I really need to give them credit for that.

As their primary business, Telstra sells phone and Internet connectivity solutions. Qantas sells air travel. But these two companies have become so much more in Australia than just service providers.

It could be argued that they are business icons in Australia. The Telstra T and the Qantas kangaroo are easily recognisable to all Australians and, for some, spark a flicker of Australian pride.

Marketing is all about targeting emotions – whether it’s humour, anger, pride or, one of the most powerful emotions of all, love.

Social causes incite these emotions. In Telstra’s main video in its “The Magic of Technology” series, there is no talk about how their telephone or Internet services are superior to their competitors. There’s no throwing around of numbers in relation to download speed, upload speed, call minutes or messages. There’s no speak of deals, prices or offerings. It’s all about human connectivity. It’s all about Telstra’s endeavour to bring people together. This could be brought back to the Global Goals and tied into Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities and Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. The success of the ad is in the use of families, the inclusion of a component of education, the brief reference to improving health, the clip of firefighters working as a team to save a burning building, the scene of the businesswoman working across the globe, the shot of the paramedics working to save the life of an injured person. Telstra is not talking about its offerings in numbers but in individual stories which emotionally impact a wide demographic of people.

Last year, Qantas introduced its Dreamliner, which is claimed to be the most advanced long-haul aircraft of its type anywhere in the world. In their advertisement, they didn’t talk about the mechanics which makes this aircraft so incredible. They didn’t use numbers in reference to speed, distance, fuel capacity or fuel efficiency. Instead, they based their advertisement on a scenario to which many people around the world could relate: the difficulties surrounding living apart from family and the joy of being able to see them again. While I do not live on the other side of the world to my mother, the distance from Canberra to Perth is long enough for this advertisement to have an overwhelming effect on me. The soundtrack talks about a concept of ‘home’. While there is no reference to reducing inequalities in society, that same idea of connectivity and the importance of communities, including the family as a community, is what makes the advertisement so powerful.

What can we learn from these two advertisements in terms of sustainability in business? Firstly, it is important to understand what your business contributes to society on an emotional level. Does your business bring people together or solve everyday problems? The second step is to work out how to market your business in the light of social sustainability. How is your business impacting the social development of the local, regional, national or even international area in which you operate? A business’ sustainability commitment should not just begin and end in the boardroom with a sustainability report. You can use your commitments to social sustainability to sell your product. To find out how this would work for your business, contact us today!