Check this out. What you will see is an important new book that goes to a place that I’m betting most of us, certainly including me, haven’t thought much about before. In this work, my old friend Karen Tibbals explores the issue of whether brands should take a position on social issues. One line from her description of the book will help to clarify the point of this book:
“Take Nike for example. They took Colin Kaepernick’s side, and the brand gained consumers in its chosen market. But taking sides is a potential minefield if you don’t do it correctly.”
Yup. When I saw Nike take a major stand with the guy who spearheaded the take-a-knee-during-the-NFL-National Anthem- movement, I was scratching my head as to how that would all turn out. I also wondered how the heck you would conduct a priori marketing research on this that would help to assess the risk of disaster.
Karen’s background, which includes years of doing pharmaceutical marketing research and a stint at a seminary, provides her with a virtually unique set of credentials relevant to this and similar questions. And providing research and consulting on this area of endeavor is what she is now doing for a living. Fascinating!
Bottom Line. True confession. I have been trying to get my pharmaceutical clients to take a stand on such issues as physician burnout and suicide for over a year now. Although these issues are of tremendous import to their customer base, nobody has wanted to touch these issues with a ten foot pole. Are they concerned about the “minefields” to which Karen refers?
And think about it. For which drug classes would taking a stand on a social issue seem appropriate and relevant? AIDS/HIV medications? Contraceptives? Opioids? Psychotropics? Vaccines?
Should any of these take a “stand” on a social issue, and if so, what?