A World of Juxtaposition – The Age of Consumerism

Standing in a queue at Kmart over the weekend, I noticed a pellet of ‘dog training nappies’ for sale. While in that same line, I overheard a conversation about Friday’s Climate Strike, in which NTWRK Head of Design and Strategy Paul Bonacci and his children actively participated. We scream to care for the Earth, yet the world of consumerism is so intently persistent and present.

As CEO of a digital marketing collective, I pondered concepts of veganism, digital insights and accessibility, dog training nappies, values, positioning and audience… and what makes a brand stand out in a world that has become a juxtaposition of sustainability and sales.

Contradiction means opportunity

For a brand, this contradiction means opportunity. It allows a business to position itself, loud and clear to its target audience through its values.

Take “Who gives a crap,” focusing totally on sustainability through strong online, value-driven communication. Home delivery, 50% of profits contributed to building toilets around the world and endless opportunity for toilet humour, they made a splash – excuse the pun – with a crowdfunding campaign. One of their co-founders sat on a toilet in a draughty warehouse, refusing to move until enough pre-orders had been raised. After 50 hours, and with what could only be a very cold bottom, the brand had hit the ground running and continues to thrive.

On the other end of the conservative scale, we have Alan Joyce and Qantas. Over the years, they’ve been a considered brand, not commenting too much on social issues, but in this world of juxtaposition and consumerism, their position amongst their audience as never been stronger – or more visible. A slow burn over time, their focus on diversity and engaging new audiences are now greater than ever with their connection to LGBTQIA audiences.

Speaking at the National Press Club just this week, Joyce acknowledged the government’s desire for business to speak out on economic issues, but said it’s good business who speak out on social issues too. Very true, especially as there’s nothing more powerful than a CEO representing their brand through an active stance on social issues, “because that’s important to our employees, our customers, our shareholders.

Stand by your position

Then there are companies who have stood by their values, their business and their brand through clouds of controversy and challenge. Nike, Apple, Volkswagen; they weather whatever comes their way, back the celebrities that endorse their brands, and lead the way on standing for social issues that align. We’ve quoted them before in our content, but it’s hard to go past the example of Nike’s ‘Crazy’ campaign featuring Serena Williams, or that of Apple’s in the ’90s.

In this age of consumerism, juxtaposition and social awareness, the time has never been better for a business leader to be bold and take a stance, jump off the fence and firmly plant your logo flag in the ground. It’s the businesses who are – Nike, Apple, Qantas – even the start-ups like Who Gives A Crap that are engaging Gen Y and Gen Z, captivating new audiences, and who stand out.

Everyone has an opinion, but it’s the brands who position, align and target it that get noticed. To that, I rolled my eyes at those dog training nappies and put my puppy outside to water the grass.

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