You can’t read a newspaper or turn on the news without encountering politics. The topic has seeped into nearly every aspect of daily life, including business. We’ve witnessed both waves of consumer backlash and support based on a company’s affiliation or stance on an issue. More than ever, consumers are demanding that brands stand for something.
This poses the question: can brands take a clear stance on a social or political issue and also reap rewards?
We faced this at Cybereason when we considered launching a campaign tackling election security, using our knowledge of cybersecurity and our executives (who had previously worked for nation-states on both defensive and offensive cyber strategies) to create hacking simulations and training scenarios.
The topic, which has been prevalent in political conversations since the 2016 election, would put us squarely in the realm of politics. Our initial instinct was to avoid anything with a whiff of politics. Would talking about election security make it look like we were choosing sides? Would such a campaign be worth it?
Simply put: it was. The campaign, dubbed Operation Blackout 2020, has been one of our most successful to date, generating media coverage across dozens of outlets, building solid relationships with government agencies and genuinely having an impact on the course of our democratic system. All without ever taking a political stance.
In fact, the campaign has been so successful that we have scheduled nearly a half dozen more Operation Blackout tabletop simulations in the upcoming months.
How were we able to tackle a political topic without getting political? It comes down to one simple factor: focusing on the pain points and concerns of people and not how it gets manifested into a political discussion.
The concept of marketing and politics has always tended to reflect separation of church and state: a clear distinction, with some minor evidence of co-mingling. But as social issues and politics become more polarizing, it’s harder for brands to ignore. And, consumers are now demanding that brands take a stand.
One report found that nearly 2/3 of consumers around the globe will buy or boycott a brand solely because of its position on a social or political issue. More and more evidence suggests that consumers want brands to take a stand on issues that are important to them.
This dichotomy can cause quite the conundrum for marketers. Avoiding political topics has been a long-standing tradition because of the backlash that can ensue. But when consumers are demanding that companies take a stand, it puts marketers in a precarious situation.
In our case, we chose to focus in on a key aspect of human psychology—central fears and concerns—rather than politics. The subject of election security is actually a bi-partisan issue.
Everyone may not agree on the source, but the warning of fake news, foreign interference and cyber predators comes from both sides of the aisle. It’s a problem that most feel is in need of a solution.
To maintain universal appeal, we focused on creating a solution rather than identifying or spotlighting one particular issue.
Fake news can run rampant, influencing voters of both parties, so how can law enforcement step in and protect our democratic process? The rise of deep fakes increases the threat of doctored videos; how can voters tell the difference? Autonomous vehicles are gaining in popularity, what could happen if they were hacked on Election Day?
The solutions circumvent politics – it was our way of tackling a political topic without getting political ourselves.
By focusing on solutions–how to protect our electoral system and the underlying critical infrastructure from bad actors trying to manipulate the outcome–the campaign became about upholding our democratic values of a free election.
There was no need to wade into the politics behind these topics – we made it clear that the purpose wasn’t to point fingers at who is to blame, but rather the importance of cyber protection on Election Day.
Our message also straddles the divide between politics and business: cybersecurity is as much a business story as it is a political one.
Critical infrastructure–which spans from traffic lights to public transportation to how information is disseminated–impacts more than just Election Day. In exploring the vulnerabilities of these systems, we provided a training ground for preventing everyday attacks as well. This information is useful to business owners and citizens of all types.
There are many ways to tackle political subjects without getting political. The key is to identify a pain point and laser focus on solutions. Strongly align your brand as the solution provider.
Demonstrate that you’re thinking about the problem from all different angles and perspectives, without bias. Done right, the returns on tackling a political issue in a marketing campaign can be many fold.
Roi Carmel is Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Marketing Officer at Cybereason. In this dual role, Carmel is responsible for overseeing two distinct departments and ensuring that they work together to design and support cybersecurity products that suit the fast-changing needs of the marketplace.Reblogged 1 year ago from www.clickz.com