Branding With a Purpose: Variety’s Entertainment and Technology Summit

By Alyssa Dingwall, Social Media Strategist Manager

Today’s audiences and consumers are passionate about advocating for different social causes – and they hope the brands they consume are too. Our Chief Content Officer David Lang, joined moderator Elizabeth Wagmeister from Variety and Erin Condon, VP Front Store & Omnichannel Marketing, CVS Health; Jill Cress, Chief Marketing and Brand Officer, National Geographic; Alyson Griffin, VP Global Marketing, Intel; Debra Lee, CEO and Chairman, BET Networks to discuss how brands can take a stand at Variety’s Entertainment and Technology Summit.

In 2014, CVS Health stopped selling tobacco products, and was the first retail pharmacy chain to do so.  Condon reinforced that companies must be transparent with their customers, so they feel comfortable providing feedback about their expectations of the brand. Based on feedback from their customers, the chain will stop retouching models for their in-store beauty brand ads by 2020.

Cress discussed how consumers want to know how to leave the world a better place, and look to brands who are doing that. Millennials and Gen Z want to feel close to causes, and have a connection to them through community. National Geographic does this through social media, where they are the most followed brand on Instagram #humblebrag.

Griffin explained that Intel takes responsibility for explaining AI to a public that may be more concerned about a robot uprising than they are excited about the mind-blowing advances that the technology enables. Their “snotbot” is a recent example of sharing their technology with marine experts to collect samples and data from whales through drones, so the researchers don’t need to catch the whales before extracting samples.

Lang announced a new campaign from Mindshare’s Project YouDoYou, in partnership with Snap, Inc. and stars from Universal Music Group for Anti-Bullying Day. It further supports the program stance that behind every powerful girl, is another powerful girl. He reminded brands to stay true to themselves and be authentic, because Millennials and Gen Z are laser-focused on brands who walk the walk, not just talk the talk. If you take a stand, it must be for something that is important to both your brand and your customers.

Lee noted that is has been a challenge for BET to balance being an entertainment network while covering the subjects that are important to their audience. They are also very aware of the values of their employees, and communicate the overall brand values to everyone who works there.

When it comes to what the right and authentic way to join today’s powerful social movements, there will be a different answer for every brand. But you must find a way to give back to the community, or the next generation of customers will take note.