FEATURE24 November 2017

Togetherness in a divided world

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What role is there for brands when society is fractured and divisions widening? Hall & Partners’ Vanella Jackson looks at why knowing your audience is more vital than ever.

There is a deeply divisive figure in the White House, controversial wars are being fought abroad, the economy is stuttering, social cohesion is crumbling, and leaders around the world appear to be dangerously out of touch. Yet here is an iconic brand that promises optimism, togetherness and hope. A group of people – photogenic, but still reassuringly real – drawn together, bonded by the values displayed by a recognised label. At least that’s the plan.

It worked in 1971. The timeless ‘I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke’ campaign transformed the advertising and marketing industries because it promised something more than a simple consumerable. Here was a message of solidarity that appealed to a fractured society – an idealistic message of hope that permeated into a multinational, multi-ethnic psyche.

More than 45 years on, and society is almost an exact mirror image – yet, this time, the advertising doesn’t resonate as effectively. Inspired by the same youthful ‘them v us’, ‘love not war’ sentiment, ...