Brands Must Prepare For Societal Crises

How and when should companies speak out on divisive societal issues?

Communications and marketing agency Peppercomm has developed a program called StandSmart to help organizations prepare for inevitable societal crises and take a smart stand on an issue.

A predictive analytics tool, called StandSmart Advance, acts as an early warning system for predicting when these crises will hit and deciding how to respond.

There have been no shortage of such issues in the news recently, according to the agency.  Nike and Levi Strauss recently demonstrated that each was ready to stand up and speak out on societal issues of the day, with Nike taking a stand on taking a knee and Levi Strauss speaking out on gun violence. 

Still Peppercomm’s proprietary research indicates that two-thirds of CMOs and COOs said they aren’t prepared to take such a stand.



The program can also guide a company in developing its purpose or activating one it has already defined. Adherence to a corporate purpose is critical for successfully managing a societal crisis, Peppercomm claims.

Peppercomm will also conduct a monthly analysis of crises and publicly recognize one organization with the StandSmart STAR (Stand, Timing, Accountability and Response) award.

“Stand” notes how a brand's response aligns with its stated corporate purpose, while “Timing” assesses how quickly the brand responded. “Accountability” examines whether the brand’s top executive responded with a statement or action, and “Response" assesses if the response was strong and actionable. 

The agency recognized Nike in September as the first winner of the award. "'Quiet confidence’ would be an appropriate description of how Nike reacted to the firestorm” around its controversial Kaepernick ad, with the company "staying the course and sticking with its convictions," according to the agency.


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