3 ways global brands embraced politics to engage audiences

25th August 2016

How are global brands using politics in their branding? For this retail industry report, we’ve analyzed three major fashion brands and the way they’ve tried to use the surge in political awareness to connect with their audiences. 

This report covers:

  • The relevance of brand authenticity, and the difference between ‘showing’ and ‘telling’ a brand’s involvement with politics
  • How scandals can destroy even the most active of brands which have embraced politics
  • The role advertising plays, and how sensitive the balance is between good and bad narratives
  • Insights around audiences and how by brands can best approach developing campaigns using politics

There’s a growing trend of brands using political messaging in their advertising. An industry where this is much used is fashion which has wholeheartedly embraced politics. But it’s a fine line between PR disaster and connecting with your audience on an emotional level when you’re embracing politics.

It had been predicted that the 2010s would be characterized by a new, distinct kind of lifestyle brand – the political brand.

This claim rung particularly true during the year when the debate about the effects of Beyoncé’s feminist stance are still ongoing and brands such as Tory Burch are being accused of cultural appropriation in their shoots. To stay in touch with their audiences, brands are expected to react to these cultural and political shifts.

A few brands are leading this change. For example, outdoor brand North Face has donated 408,000 hectares of land they’d previously bought in Chile to the local government to turn into national parks, boosting the brand’s reputation as socially conscious.

However, navigating the shift towards the political and socially conscious is not always an easy transition for clothing brands.

This study will explore the way retail brands are navigating these changes and dealing with controversies along the way.

In this report, Pulsar researcher Anna Rudkevych explores three major fashion brands – American Apparel, H&M and Nike – and how they’ve fared with their brand messaging having embraced politics