Unmetric logotype

Brands taking a stand on world issues – to do or not to do?

Shrujitha Ramanujam

The world is currently littered with dozens of issues affecting lives all across the globe. In the age of social media, it’s common to see celebrities putting their two cents worth in and being vocal about what they believe and stand for.

Brands, on the other hand, have a lot to lose out on and have always been unsure of how to tread these rocky waters. Being vocal about issues—no matter how controversial they are—has always been enticing with the value proposition of winning over the hearts and minds of their fan base. But the repercussions on such sensitive issues could be massive.

To give brands more insight into the financial and brand impact of taking a stand on a controversial matter, Unmetric, partnered with Toluna, a leading consumer insights platform to create this report. Toluna, surveyed 1,000 people in the US on how they would react to brands taking a stand on world issues, while Unmetric analyzed user engagement and metrics before and after the brands posted content to their social channels.

Key takeaways from the report

Insights from the Toluna 2018 survey:

  • 3 out of 10 people said they would buy more goods or services from a brand they’d already purchased from if that brand took a stance on a controversial political or social issue that aligned with their beliefs.
  • 2 out of 8 people said they would be willing to pay a higher price for a product that aligns with their beliefs versus an alternative less expensive brand.
  • 2 out of 9 people said they would get rid of a brand’s products that they already own if that brand took a stance on a controversial issue that counters their beliefs.
  • 4 out of 9 people said they would view a brand much more positively if their beliefs were aligned with what the brand stood for.

Insights from the Unmetric’s data analysis:

  • Nike added 30 times more Twitter followers on the day the ‘Colin K’ ad campaign debuted compared to its daily average and saw 312 times more @-mentions by users on Twitter.
  • Patagonia added 19 times more fans on Facebook on the day it debuted ‘The President Stole Your Land’ campaign compared to its daily average. On Facebook, the 8,200 people that commented on Patagonia’s post spoke most frequently about “Obama”, “Trump”, “money”, and “business”.
  • Airbnb saw 17 times more @-mentions by users on Twitter on the day the ‘We Accept’ ad campaign debuted compared to its daily average and the post was shared 438 more times than its average. On Facebook, the 9,770 people that commented on the post had good things to say, with words like “beautiful”, “love”, “amen”, and “acceptance” among the most used in the comments.

is it worth brands taking a stand on controversial topics?

Overall by taking a stand on controversial issues, brands saw an increase in their social engagement and purchase intent.

Click here to read the entire report.

Unmetric Methodology:

Unmetric used its Analyze platform to examine the impact of previous campaigns where brands took a stance on a controversial political or social issue. Unmetric evaluated user engagement and metrics before and after the brands posted content to their social channels. The brand content analyzed came from Nike, Patagonia, Airbnb, PayPal, Ben & Jerry’s, and YoPlait.

Toluna Methodology:

Toluna surveyed 1,000 people in the US between the ages of 18 and 55+ to gauge opinions on brands taking a stance on controversial political and social issues. The survey collected insights on purchase intent and consumers’ behavior on social media when brands take a stance on these issues.