I first entered in contact with Thomas Kolster’s Goodvertising a few months ago, when I found out a Romanian campaign – Money School for BCR – was mentioned in it as a case of good practices in social. Naturally, my interest for the book increased, as it is also considered to be a “bible” for social advertising.
What is Goodvertising? It is a book written by Thomas Kolster that presents the needed steps to make clever advertising that will social impact, along with 120 creative campaigns that changed in a good way the destiny of communities around the world and a series of interviews.
Goodvertising mainly seeks to raise awareness among advertising industry’s players on how they can make campaigns that would make a difference for people, for their lives and for the society in general. Goodvertising is a book about people who believe in challenging our current system and dare to dream of a better world, on a principle that Ghandi promoted a while ago: “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
I don’t like most advertising. In fact I hate 99% of it (…) There is, however, 1% of advertising that really makes a difference, and that is where brands start by showing an interest in me – the consumer
This is the very opening of the book and also what made me read it from start to end, as such a statement coming from an adman isn’t something you see or hear too often.
Brands in nowadays world
As Thomas Kolster puts it up in his book, brands that exist in today’s world have nowhere to hide, as internet is everywhere and they get exposed and judged all the time by online communities, with a single tweet being able to become “a screaming kettle of consumer pressure on a brand, with power to change markets in minutes”.
In a world where consumers and not brands are not in control of the story, the only thing brands can do is to make sure they have a good story. Moreover, most consumers don’t care if brands live or die, but they definitely want them to get involved in solving problems society is facing. In this context, brands need to win consumers’ trust and show them they make good, make them see, feel and believe in their actions or, otherwise said, “Get naked, get together and get out there”.
Brands need to remain relevant (by being transparent, connected, simple, collaborative, compassionate, creative, contagious, generous, insightful and positive). But, in order to do so, they need creativity, as it represents the biggest point of difference.
And, when it comes of creativity, advertising industry can make a real world-changing difference, as it built brands stronger than nations. The only condition is for admen and adwomen to stand up as professionals and put their talents to good use.
Also, brands and companies don’t need to preach about CSR, but align passion and compassion and their mission with a vision for a better world.
In a transparent market, consumers reward companies and brads that do good by buying and promoting their products and that generates a Wheel of good, as consumers will demand for more and more products that deliver health, society or environment value.
Advertising people have the power to change brands from inside out, the creative muscle to come up with solutions and the power to influence the mind and behavior of future marketplace.
What’s needed to prove responsibility in a world where consumers want brands to care?
1. Transparency: Brands moves are now exposed and judged by online communities and the power of the internet is merciless. That’s why honesty is the most disarming tool brands can use: admit the problems, look for the most serious one and ask for help. This way, brands and consumers came closer and start building mutual trust.
2. Connection: Brands need to make personal connections with the consumers, as personal stories make anyone realize their own contribution can make a difference. Also, brands need faces, as one face can help people relate to your campaign, as they can feel and relate with an individual. More important, to make a connection, brands must turn their story into consumers’ story, insert the audience in it and make it interactive.
3. Simplicity: In a more and more complex world, consumers are craving for simplicity. Brands must leave out any details and communicate the single most important message and aim to help simplify and make easier consumers’ lives, make them easier. To acquire simplicity, one first needs to pick up an idea or concept, than choose channels to decline it on and the messages to be relayed.
4. Collaboration: collaborative models are more and more used today; collective will proves to be very powerful and that’s why a story has to be about all of us to be a success. Brands need to create a feeling of collaboration, as consumers want to be part of a community. Also, asking consumers’ input is appreciated, as it is a sign of openness, and consumer’s response is more valuable than ordered researches. Different brands now even work together, joining forces to solve problems they couldn’t solve alone.
5. Compassion: align the passion with compassion and come up with a Compassionate Selling Proposition. Brand messages conveying passion and emotion have more impact on consumers, so companies have to make their message feel right.
6. Creativity: Brands need here the power of the big idea, the one that is able to reach billions of people. Of course, to get to that idea, one has to challenge his thinking and ask continuously “What if?”, use the creativity to stand out and be a problem solver.
7. Contagiousness: Brands have the chance to touch more people than any time before, thanks to the internet and interconnectedness. If brands do good, good news travel fast and consumers are more likely to share good news. The secret resides in the power of the story
8. Generosity: It is an attitude and a brand must aim to add value to people’s lives, invest time and care and be attractive by being generous. After all, the more you give, the more you get.
9. Insight: Use the most relevant insight for brand’s public to create strong connection with consumers and consumers must be spoken to as individuals. To do so, they need to express their insights creatively and do so with help from great thinkers and strategists.
10. Positivity: In the entire quest to win the consumers, brands must the power of positivity, find their positive attitude as it might be contagious and even use humor cleverly in order to raise awareness.
11. Commitment: Companies must turn from short-term partnerships towards long-term citizenships with benefits for everyone, keep their focus, share progress, commit to purposes and bring that to life so consumers will see and appreciate.
After I finished reading, I reached a conclusion: if you work in communication industry, you need to read Goodvertising. You can find the book on Amazon and it could change your mind on some things or, at least, it will offer you a different perspective on CSR campaigns. And yes, brands cannot do all of the above themselves, they need the help of advertising industry with it, because, as Kolster says, advertising can change the world and itself.