The coincidence of a bitter presidential campaign, the response to George Floyd’s death, and the pandemic prompted well-known brands to pursue targeted marketing as the defining strategy for 2020.
2020 was the year many brands including Nike, Pepsico, and P&G developed funding, policy changes, advertising, and more to tackle social injustice. Now the work continues through 2021 and beyond, which begs the question: what exactly does it mean to be a purpose-built brand? And how do you do that?
This week, Stacey Ullrich, Head of Global Community Impact and Community Affairs at Under Armor, sat down with Adweek Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Paterik at the Brandweek Sports Marketing Summit to discuss exactly how Under Armor is targeting – and how other brands are doing this also can.
According to Ullrich, a brand is not just about making money.
“If your vision and your top priority is to make money, eventually people will learn what you stand for and it will be difficult to continue on this journey,” she said.
Instead, a brand’s primary goal is to be a good social and global citizen.
“If done right, profit and purpose can live together,” added Ullrich. “And these two can really be the foundation of how you build a purpose-built organization.”
However, there are times when profit and purpose seem at odds. But in those moments, brands with well-defined value propositions can make decisions based on what they stand for.
“What the word ‘action’ in activism means to you is number one thing you have to do,” she said. “And you need to be comfortable, even if these levels may not resonate with your entire consumer base.”
Ullrich noted that when brands consistently act with their values, consumers learn what they stand for and hopefully respect these values even if they do not share them.
And because a company is made up of employees who are also its consumers, it encourages a clear position.
“You are not from the community, you are actually in the community,” said Ullrich. “And you really need to listen to what is needed … both internally and externally, and then understand what you can bring into the equation.”
This means not only focusing on funding organizations in need, but also figuring out how to create stronger communities by fully activating the entire organization.
“There is so much more social capital and, frankly, technical expertise in your organization. If they don’t offer this to their partners, they are only reaching the very top, ”she added. “So internally, I think it’s about building the case that this is your community too and asking what you want to see.”
“How do we take a moment and turn it into motion?”
One example is Under Armour’s ongoing “Run to Vote” initiative, which through November 3rd sought to “increase voter turnout by getting as many voters on the field as possible”. But the effort continues and Ullrich noted that the brand is calling it an initiative rather than a campaign because “campaigns have a start and an end date”.
“I think one of our main focuses is really how we can take a moment and turn it into movement.” She said. “For us, the Run to Vote initiative is the foundation that we built on the conviction that we all have the opportunity to take part in civic engagement.”