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Should brands take a stand on social issues?

Be prepared to be attacked! Say insight professionals

For decades, businesses have tried to remain neutral.  In this era of political polarization, that is changing, with some brands deciding to take stand to become relevant to their customers.  Recent examples are Nike using Colin Kaepernick as the face of its 30th anniversary #JustDoIt campaign, Bonobos creating a video to #EvolveTheDefintion of masculinity and Gillette’s 2019 #ToxicMasculinity video.

Early in March, I collected opinions about this issue from just under 40 insight professionals (formerly known as market researchers).  Insight professionals agree that brands should take a stand! 

But, as professionals who work on evaluating marketing campaigns for a living, they were aware of the downsides of taking a stand. Almost all cautioned that brands can expect to be attacked if it does so (35 of 39 respondents). 

They also felt that brands should reflect the values of their customers (32 completely or somewhat agree).  And they would like for there to be a better way – 34 of 39 completely or somewhat agree.  They don’t want their brand to be under attack!

Is there a better way?  I think I have found one. In my book, Marketing Landmines: The Next Generation of Emotional Branding, I explain how marketers can do just that.  For details, see a look at my website at  Or have me come in to explain it.


I’d love to know what you think.  Email me at to continue the conversation.


Karen Tibbals is the founder of Ethical Frames a company dedicated to helping marketers make better decisions about taking stands on social issues

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Karen Tibbals @KarenTibbals

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