When this happens, the reputational damage far outweighs profits because the
‘woke’ community is not just consumers but a consciousness culture – they
decide what moves or doesn’t.
What does being
“Woke is a slang term that is easing into the mainstream from some varieties of
a dialect called African-American Vernacular. In English awake is often
rendered as woke as in – I was sleeping but now I’m woke – a byword for social
In simple terms it describes a renewed sense of thinking, an awakening to
social injustices (racism, patriarchy, sexism, homophobia to name a few)
that had been accepted as normal.
This era of social media activism gives a voice to the voiceless and a platform
to those who have been long ignored or marginalised by mainstream media and
brands. The “woke” generation are “mavericks” on their own right who challenge
the status quo and stereotypes about social injustice and call out inequality.
Here are my 3 insights and learning’s for marketers:
1. Nothing moves
without the “culture”
From deciding what is the popular fashion trends (locally and internationally)
to the craze over Gin and Tonic, to attending music festivals that allow
individuals to express themselves (example Afropunk), to consuming radio via podcast.
The consumers are in the driving seat, they will decide how they want to
consume your brand. Marketers must pay close attention to the fast-changing
lifestyle of consumers and ensure your brand fits in with their environment and
not the other way around. Disruption is no longer a cool advertising term but a
reality and ‘culture’ dictates how you innovate and disrupt.
2. We don’t read
the news, we make the news
After sexual harassment allegations, American actor Kevin Spacey was removed
from the series House of Cards by Netflix. It only takes a
social media ‘outcry or Twitterwar’ between two people (brand) or more for that
to make headlines in mainstream media that can cause huge reputational damage.
That means journalists now get their ‘scoop’ on social media and it only takes
a hasty post or campaign for it to be challenged or ‘dragged’ to make news on
mainstream media for the wrong reason.
3. Cross your T’s,
check your balances and remain authentic
Behind brands are real human beings, and therefore it is imperative that as
human beings we become compassionate and thoughtful towards other human beings.
Before marketers sign off a marketing campaign, do all your checks and balances
to see that you don’t offend your target market. This has been a PR nightmare
for some brands who had to apologise for haphazard marketing campaigns (Dove).
Therefore In 2018 your brand cannot be seen as insensitive to the world’s
social plight of injustice, this is no longer a CSI job that is driven by PR
but the responsibility of the overall brand promise. A brand should be
authentic for consumers to feel it represents their values and what they stand
for because consumers can tell when a brand is authentic or when it pretends to
My appeal to all marketers to dot your I’s and cross your T’s, before
finalising your next campaign, be vigilant and enculturated, to ensure that you
do not offend your target market.
The question remains, is your brand ‘woke’? Does your brand personality (blue
print) still represents a conservative narrative and is in contradiction to
where the world is moving to? (Hello Trump!)