- More companies are taking a “woke” approach to issues, NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway said onstage Monday during Business Insider’s flagship technology and media conference, IGNITION.
- In many cases, they’re leaning to the left on the political spectrum under the guise of “doing the right thing.”
- They’re actually following the money, Galloway says, as demographic shifts have meant the creation of wealth is increasingly concentrated in blue areas of the country.
Sometimes to get at the motive you need to follow the money. That’s especially true for businesses.
More companies are taking a “woke” approach to issues, NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway said onstage during Business Insider’s flagship technology and media conference, IGNITION, on Monday.
We’re now seeing the emergence of “woke as a business strategy,” Galloway says. That has resulted in ad campaigns like the new “Just Do It” campaign with Colin Kaepernick that Nike released this year, which drew an extremely polarised reaction.
Featuring a close-up of the former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick with the words “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” the ad links Kaepernick’s going unsigned in the NFL to his kneeling during the national anthem, which he did in 2016 to protest racial injustice.
The ad was clearly a risk. It predictably blew up on social media, with some praising the ad’s message and others lambasting both it and the company. It has spurred calls for a boycott of Nike products. Some social-media users posted videos of people lighting their shoes on fire.
Though there are many reasons a company like Nike would lean to the left on some issues, only part of it is so that it can be seen as “doing the right thing” in the eyes of its target consumer, Galloway says. It also puts the company in line with the thinking of a demographic of customers that is growing in spending power, he argues.
Put simply, “Democrats have all the money” these days, according to Galloway. Demographic shifts in America mean that much of the wealth being generated in the country is centered in some very blue districts. Economic growth has been centered in major democratic strongholds like New York and California, so it makes sense for marketing to speak to these consumers first.
More money means more purchasing power, which could lead to higher sales for a company that can successfully court these consumers.
According to Galloway, that results in controversial ads like the one featuring Kaepernick from Nike. Perhaps offensive for some, but arguably hitting all the right notes for the customer Nike was trying to reach in the first place.
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