Corporate Wokeness and Its Pitfalls

Corporate Wokeness and Its Pitfalls

In our current social and political climate, it seems like every corporation is trying to be the most “woke.” From Nike’s controversial Colin Kaepernick ads to Gillette’s “The Best Men Can Be” campaign, companies are increasingly using their marketing to take a stance on social issues. However, not every attempt at woke marketing is successful, as evidenced by the recent Bud Light fiasco. Despite this, we continue to see corporations falling on their woke sword. Why are companies still trying to be woke, and what can we learn from their successes and failures?

First, let’s define what we mean by “woke marketing.” Woke marketing refers to a brand’s attempt to align itself with social justice causes and to appeal to socially conscious consumers. This could involve anything from creating ads that feature diverse models, to taking a stand on political issues like racial justice or LGBTQ rights. The goal is to tell consumers that the brand is on their side and that they share their values.

So why are companies so eager to be woke? The answer is simple: money. The rise of social media and the increased influence of millennials and Gen Z consumers means that companies can no longer ignore social and political issues. According to a study by Accenture, 63% of consumers prefer to buy products and services from companies that are authentic, transparent, and take a stand on social issues. In order to appeal to these consumers, companies must show that they care about more than just their bottom line. By being perceived as socially responsible, companies hope to build customer loyalty and increase sales.

However, the risks of woke marketing are significant. When companies take a stand on social issues, they risk alienating a significant portion of their customer base. This is exactly what happened with Bud Light’s recent “joke” about corn syrup in other beer brands. While the ad was intended to highlight Bud Light’s use of rice instead of corn syrup, it sparked outrage among corn farmers and fans of other beer brands. Bud Light quickly pulled the offending ads and issued an apology, but the damage had already been done. The ad had alienated a significant portion of Bud Light’s potential customer base, and the company’s reputation suffered as a result.

So how can companies avoid falling on their woke sword? First and foremost, they need to be genuine in their pursuit of social responsibility. Consumers are savvy and can easily spot when a company is just paying lip service to a cause. In order to truly connect with consumers, companies need to be authentic in their commitment to social justice issues. They also need to be aware of the potential risks of taking a stance on controversial issues. Companies must weigh the potential benefits of a woke marketing campaign against the potential backlash from customers who may not agree with their position.

In conclusion, the rise of woke marketing is an inevitable response to the changing social and political climate. Companies are eager to show that they are socially responsible and aligned with their customers’ values in order to increase sales. However, the risks of woke marketing are significant, and companies must be aware of the potential backlash from customers who may not share their views. Ultimately, the key to successful woke marketing is authenticity and a genuine commitment to social justice issues. Only time will tell if companies will continue to fall on their woke sword, or if they’ll be able to strike a balance between social responsibility and profitability.