Brands: act like a good person and you’ll be viewed as a good corporate citizen

At Onesixtyfourth, we’ve been talking a lot about the ability for brands to forge new attitudes regarding social responsibility. That a true leadership brand will tend to transcend the preconceived notions surrounding their industry, despite the surrounding narratives – many of which are often extreme generalizations, but have for some reason been cemented into the psyche of society at large. For example, oil companies pollute, banks are greedy, and clothing companies sometimes take unfair advantage of cheap labor. While these statements are of course tremendously opinionated and sometimes unfounded, it is not always easy to shake these labels. In order to do so, brands will oftentimes directly attack the source in order to change their image – they will target in on the source of criticism, and launch a campaign to counteract that criticism by excelling in exactly what they were criticized for not doing in the first place. (Think BP’s massive green washing campaign following the 2010 oil spill, or Dominos “mea culpa” strategy.) Both of these crusades essentially said, “Ok fine. We really messed up, so were going to do everything to clean up our mess. We won’t sleep if we have to.” While it’s always wise to clean up a mess, the fact remains that these brands become best known for these specific actions. And, the means of turning these initiatives into lasting, positive brand equity remains less clear. Sure BP cleaned up, but was the intention genuine? Did they truly realize the error of their ways, or did they clean up simply because there was no other option? Was cleaning up the only means of...

Dynamic culture: Now, the Protests Are (Kind Of) Occupying Universities

The occupy movement has spread its decentralized yet potent wings, expanding onto college campuses. While I previously argued that this movement is not definitively generation based or rooted in collegiate protest  (a la the anti-war demonstrations of the 60’s), the movement’s spread to the University represents a significant chapter in Occupys turbulent young history. Said NPR’s Beenish Ahmed, “The movement and its encampments are proving to be a challenge for administrators at some schools.” While the movement has seen presence at some of the nation’s top schools such as UCLA, UC Berkley, and even Harvard, it still doesn’t appear as if Occupy is being truly embraced by students at our nation’s most academically inclined institutions. For example, Washington DC’s Georgetown University, often a behemoth in terms of political activity, has been criticized by other DC schools for their lack of involvement in the protests. At Berkley, the camp was recently raided and torn down by authorities.  Even Harvard, despite acknowledging Occupy’s presence, has added their own twinge of exclusivity to their encampment. Following protests in Harvard Yard last week, University officials closed off the yard’s gates so that only student’s with University ID’s were allowed to enter. One percent much? I mentioned last time that GenY is not a protest generation, and that Millennials generally appear to accept the roles of the institutions they associate themselves with. While Occupy’s shift to college campuses may represent a larger trend in the role of the University in relation to the current economic crisis (College tuition nowadays is really cheap. Right?!?!), it appears that those involved in the protests on many of our...

Dynamic culture: #OWS, Occupy DC & Gen Y

Fast Company recently provided a solid breakdown of the demographics behind the Occupy Wall Street movement. Fast Company: OWS stats. Here’s some important things many people I’ve spoke with don’t seem to know: 26.7% of those participating are enrolled in school, and only 10% are full-time students. I was surprised by these numbers as they indicated OWS is not a student-led movement by any means, which provides a strong contrast to the anti-Vietnam protest of the late 60’s. Also it’s important to note, there doesn’t appear to be a strong university presence by any means, not only numbers wise but also location wise, as no protests are taking place at colleges or on university campuses. A third of protesters are over 35. While I couldn’t find a stat of how many are under 30, this was pretty striking to me, in the sense that this doesn’t appear to be an age specific movement. Therefore, despite what some of the articles I’ve read are saying, Generation Y is not driving the movement in any way whatsoever. At Onesixtyfourth, we’ve talked about GenY’s preponderance for conformity in the sense that we are not a riot-induced, crazily protesting generation. So to see if this held true I did some mother-in-law research about OWS and spoke to some friends to learn about their thoughts and involvement. There were essentially three types of responses: It’s stupid and it’s terrible and they should just go out and get jobs instead of complaining. (I should note that these comments are from Georgetown students and a lot of them are probably considered as coming from families in the...
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