Tip Sheets

Super Bowl presents the promise, and peril, of brand activism

Media Contact

Adam Allington

As younger generations account for larger shares of the market, they have shown a desire to support organizations that share and promote their values.

Manoj Thomas

Associate Professor of Marketing at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business

Manoj Thomas is a professor of marketing at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and an expert in consumer behavior. He says in today's politically charged climate, companies need to think long and hard before engaging in sociomoral debates.

Thomas says:

“The outcomes of sociomoral campaigns from brands such as Bud Light, Pepsi, and Nike illustrate the nuanced landscape of brand activism. Authenticity is a crucial factor. A brand's sociomoral stance must align with its established image to avoid perceptions of opportunism, which can alienate customers across the ideological spectrum.

“Even when the brand is authentic, it must weigh the potential loss of customers against the gains. The risk of moral divergence—losing customers whose views differ from the brand's stance—often overshadows the benefits of moral convergence—gaining customers with aligned views.

“This complex balance requires brands to carefully assess their core values and customer base, ensuring that any sociomoral stance taken is an authentic reflection of their brand identity and the risk of moral divergence is low.”

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