Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian

No matter how “out front” your brand is in the mind of the public, brands are always made up of people, and people will always care about more than the brands they represent in the marketplace. In some cases, these priorities can clash, setting up an uncomfortable decision-making process. In other cases, though, people who care can find a profitable synergy between causes they support and brands they promote.

In the best-case scenario, these compatibilities benefit both the cause and the brand in question, elevating each in the eyes of the public. Here are a few examples of social campaigns that offered definite PR benefits for the brand supporting that cause.

Whirlpool cares

The appliance brand Whirlpool wanted to help increase school attendance, so the company debuted its “Care Counts” campaign. The campaign was simple: Whirlpool identified public schools that fit specific criteria and installed new washers and dryers in these schools. This action was in response to a statistic that students are significantly more likely to skip class when they have no clean clothes.

The effort did not go unnoticed. Whirlpool earned hundreds of millions of media impressions in addition to 12 million video views on social media. According to AdWeek, these positive impressions led to a 220 percent increase in social sentiment as well as a noticeable increase in consumer intent to purchase a Whirlpool product.

Shazaam can’t name that tune

The mobile app Shazaam is wildly popular with users who know a tune but can’t think of the name of that song. Play a few bars or hum a few bars, and the app can identify the song. That is, until it couldn’t. For a time, users in the UK discovered Shazaam to be more forgetful than normal. Instead of naming that tune, the app offered messages like “This one rings a bell …” before, eventually, naming the song before posting a banner encouraging Alzheimer’s research. 

The point of the temporary change was to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s research help the app’s users understand what it might feel like to struggle with the neurodegenerative disease. Millions connected with that message, and thousands of people clicked through to the Alzheimer’s Research UK site to donate.

H-E-B shows up strong

Texas grocery chain H-E-B showed up huge for victims of Hurricane Harvey. The company arrived in Houston, set up mobile kitchens and delivered water to devastated hurricane victims. While the primary intent of the action was to assist their neighbors in the aftermath of a horrific natural disaster, the company’s brand was visible all over the place, burning it into the memory of grateful Texans. The lesson? Sometimes the best advertisement is to just show up when people need you.

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Ronn Torossian is CEO of NYC based 5WPR.