Why opinion-based advertising for business is so difficult

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DusseldorfSatisfied train drivers are beaming at Deutsche Bahn's website: dark-skinned TV chef Nelson Müller, Turkish-born presenter Nazan Eckes, German-Finnish Formula 1 racing driver Nico Rosberg. Lots of advertising ambassadors who are paid by the state corporation for laughing so happily from their train chairs. A statement for a multicultural society, the train probably thought.

The fact that political statements for companies have their pitfalls, also learned the camera manufacturer Leica. The company produced a nearly five-minute commercial called "The Hunt". It shows the work of photographers working in crisis areas. At the end of the film in English is the phrase read: This film is dedicated to "those who lend us their eyes to see".

One of the scenes depicts a photographer taking the massacre around Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989. But that is exactly a taboo in China – and brought the German camera manufacturer into trouble. Leica distanced herself from the movie and deleted it from some portals.

Showing attitude is not always easy. And yet it is something that people increasingly expect from companies. What do the managers stand for, what sense do they give to their actions? According to a study by the consultancy JP Kom and the market research company Civey, just under a third of Germans surveyed demand a political stance from the corporations.

But this also means: "More than ever before, companies need to think globally and consider which market could be problematic in which topics," says Wigan Salazar, head of the PR agency MSL Germany. "In a time of polarization, any brand can become a political issue or a political hostage," he says.

More and more brands are showing their attitude and making it clear which social and political values ​​are important to them. The sporting goods brand Nike bravely stood up by side with the outlawed NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his anti-racist action ("Believing in something, even if it means sacrificing everything").

The ADAC also relied on a multi-cultural campaign ("We are not German, we are everywhere, we do not stop at borders") and exploded a garden gnome in the video. Angry comments on the net ("racism against Germans", "notice is out !!!"), commented the automobile club left: "Brands can only give orientation if they show attitude."

Desire for attention is often greater than conviction

Brands want to be more than just a sneaker, a means of transport, a camera. Brands look for a superior purpose, neo-German Purpose. This attitude should catapult them in the heart of a consumer.

"More than ever, companies are thinking about attitudes," says Franz-Rudolf Esch, marketing professor at the EBS University for Business and Law in Wiesbaden. His explanation for the trend: "The greater the upheavals, the more important is an orientation for the people."

How well the topic pays attention to the company's success, marketing professor Esch has examined in a recent study. "Attitude and change is important in order to be successful in the long term," says the study "Successfully Leading Brands 4.0: Change Needs Attitude".

Esch advises against focusing on only one of the two dimensions. "If a company with a strong attitude drives change, it can become one of the few centuries-old companies to benefit from a positive effect on performance," he says.

But that does not always succeed. "The all-important question is whether companies are serious about the attitude – or not," says PR expert Salazar. His assessment: still too many companies are not really behind the content that they proclaim. The desire for attention is then greater than the proclaimed social or political conviction.

In his study, Marketing Professor Esch describes the prerequisites for a real attitude in a company: companies first had to clearly define their values, principles and missions, in a second step the employees should know and internalize the contents, and finally the attitude would have to be in to be lived in the company.

If the attitude has actually been anchored in the company and communicated to the employees, then the next challenge is: How can the attitude be conveyed in a communication? How can the company arm itself against attacks? "Campaigns must be accompanied by a crisis and escalation plan," says agency chief Salazar.

The railway responded quickly to the criticism of Palmer. "Mr. Palmer obviously has problems with an open and colorful society. We reject such an attitude, "the company pushed on Twitter. The politician admitted in the meantime in a "time" interview: "The whole thing was a quick shot. I did not post three sentences on Facebook two minutes after I discovered the ad on the internet by accident. "

(t) Marketing (t) Advertising (t) Marketing (t) German Railways (t) Leica (t) Nike (t) Boris Palmer (t) Study (t) Interview (t) ADAC (t) Facebook (t) EBS University of Economics and Law (t) Formula 1 (t) Boris Palmer (t) Franz-Rudolf Esch (t) Wigan Salazar

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