We ask the question - is social activism by brands virtue-signaling or tone-deaf marketing? Listen now!
- Woke-washing has become more and more prevalent in today's economy, where social awareness is a major selling point.
- Are there ways to be socially conscious without completely being dedicated to a cause or movement?
- Woke gatekeepers are the first to point out how brands are deviating from their message, even if those brands are putting in the extra work to remain socially conscious.
- Is it possible for a discount store to also be ethically sourced?
The Woke Debaucle: Setting the Record Straight:
- To set the record straight, Phillip and Brian clarify that they indeed know what "woke" means (do they though?) despite coming off as a Baby Boomer and Gen Xer, respectively.
- Just a short while after the episode on woke commerce dropped, there was an article posted on woke-washing.
- Phillip thinks that there is something about this particular time of year that leads to brands using patriotism and socially conscious messaging as part of their marketing.
- There was another article recently that said that woke-washing is beginning to infect the advertising industry due to brands running purpose-driven campaigns, but failing to take real action.
Real-World Examples: How Do You Do "Woke" Right?
- "If you are highlighting something that you do to your customers for a specific cause or issue and highlight that yourself as part of your marketing, that is not very woke."
- Brian and Phillip refer back to Patagonia, whose customers and typical customer persona does not always match up to Patagonia's political views.
- Patagonia is an excellent example of a company that would rather lose some business in pursuing something right and just as opposed to just focusing on financial gain.
- Phillip bets that there are very few businesses that can claim that they genuinely favor social or environmental benefits as opposed to money.
Levels of Wokeness: Is It All or Nothing?:
- Brian questions if a brand needs to be dedicated entirely to a social cause to be authentic.
- Phillip refers to the opening line of the woke-washing article that brings up "razor company talking about #MeToo and a burger chain tackling depression".
- Do you think Burger King was commenting on mental health with their Real Meal Campaign and did this make them woke?
- Brian proposes changing the terminology to "social awareness commerce." (And there were cringes to be had by all from this statement.)
- Phillip brings up Emily Singer's newsletter called Chips + Dips that talks about really cool things in the direct-to-consumer world, but more specifically DIP:011 that talks about Everlane being a great example of a socially conscious brand.
- Brian brings up Krochet Kids as an example of a great, ethically sourced brand.
Combatting the Critiques: How To Deal With Woke Gatekeepers:
- It needs to be clear that you care about the communities that you are involved in.
- Phillip asks the listeners: "If you set out to be socially conscious as a strategy, is that inherently undoing the good you are trying to accomplish?" (That's a great question.)
- Phillip brings up a recent article in the New York Times by Allbirds that is content that is truly about birds in partnership with the National Audobon Society.
- Brian uncomfortably combines Gary Vaynerchuk and woke in the same sentence and cements his place as a Gen Xer (which wasn't a secret).
The Halo Effect: Discount Stores in a Strong Economy:
- Brian questions what a "woke dollar store" would look like. (Oh boy. There will be a link included at the end so you can send in your hate mail.)
- Is there a way for a discount store that sources its goods from areas of the world that have unfair labor practices to also be sustainable created and produced?
- While they may not sell fresh fruit at dollar stores, the next best thing would probably be Aldi.
- Phillip brings up Dress Barn as an example of a discount store that is struggling in an economy in which people can afford better goods.
- Brian mentions Brandless as a brand that fulfills both the discount requirements as well as being ethically sourced.
- Phillip also finds and briefly goes over the Dollar Tree Sustainability Report.
Brands Mentioned in this Episode:
As always: We want to hear what our listeners think! Can a brand make small contributions to social change, or do they have to be fully invested in a cause to be authentic?
Have any questions or comments about the show? You can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or any of our social channels; we love hearing from our listeners!
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