Cone’s dedicated Research & Insights team continuously monitors new and developing trends to provide you with cutting-edge innovations, need-to-know best practices and compelling insights in the marketplace.
Plastic pollution has become a trending topic over the past year. Companies have partnered with environmental organizations and nonprofits to upcycle plastic pollution, they have joined coalitions and launched a new initiative to address their supply chains – diverting plastic waste from our oceans. Plastic waste is such a critical issue, it was even the theme of this year’s Earth Day. With stakeholders from all industries working to decrease the impact of plastic pollutants, National Geographic kicked-off a multifaceted campaign leaning on its aptitude for storytelling in the hopes of reducing global reliance on single-use plastics.
More than one-out-of-five students in the U.S. reports being bullied, making it a prevalent topic for educators and parents. And, over the past few years, organizations and brands have joined the conversation – creating hashtags, emojis and even hidden camera stunts – to bring awareness to the issue. Now, Ikea is joining the ranks with a simple, tangible activation that demonstrates the negative effects of bullying.
The evolution of responsible business has yet again taken an exciting turn as we encounter a perfect storm. Due to omnipresent social media, an absence of government leadership on critical social and environmental issues, and near-unprecedented levels of activism across demographics, social consciousness is at an all-time high. And consumers expect companies to have a more meaningful reason for being, beyond the products they create.
May 3 was World Press Freedom Day, first proclaimed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in December 1993 to raise awareness of the importance of a free press and to remind governments of their duty to uphold the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In 2017, the Business Commission released research showing that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could create economic opportunities of up to $12 trillion a year and up to 380 million new jobs by 2030. And, as more businesses begin to unlock those trillions of dollars through new markets, investments and innovation by aligning their operations with the SDGs, they can now turn to a new digital platform for pioneering startup solutions.
Texting while driving is still a major cause of car accidents around the world. In fact, drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident when texting. Earlier this year Sweden passed a law making it illegal to drive with a phone in your hand, hoping to improve those staggering statistics – however they saw no change. To drive home the dangers of texting while driving, Volkswagen has created a silent yet persistent reminder for drivers.
This weekend the world celebrates Earth Day – a time to reflect on environmental impact and take action to create sustainable change. Established in 1970, Earth Day is now celebrated by more than one billion people worldwide – including participation from countless companies. Here’s how organizations are choosing to keep the holiday fresh and top of mind through engaging consumer activations:
Starbucks has been under a harsh spotlight over the past week as attention focuses on a Philadelphia store manager's decision to call police to remove two black men, resulting in them being handcuffed and led from the store. They had been sitting quietly for no more than a minute or two, waiting to start a meeting. One of the men asked to use the restroom. The manager indicated that a purchase was required to do that or to sit in the store. When the men declined to buy anything immediately and declined to leave, the manager called police.
Last week, nonprofits and companies alike convened in New York City for the 4th Annual Cause Marketing Summit (CMS) – dedicated to unpacking Purpose-driven marketing, partnerships and the most engaging cause marketing campaigns of the past year. The one-day event featured the latest key insights from cause marketing experts on issues such as civil liberties, mental illness and STEM, as well as how the field continues to innovate to engage stakeholders around these critical issues. For those not on the ground at CMS, here are the four need-to-know takeaways from the event:
Influencer marketing has become a hot trend in social media. And with more than 800 million active users on Instagram, influencers can truly amplify a message and deliver real results for brands, especially amongst social media savvy Gen Z and Millennial audiences. Leveraging the popular platform, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched a simple, eye-opening campaign to showcase the effects of environmental destruction.
Recently, leading practitioners from sustainability, procurement, innovation and communications, along with investors, government officials and representatives from academic institutions and NGOs, convened in Brooklyn for Ethical Corporation’s 2018 Responsible Business Summit New York.
Last week marked the 2018 National Public Health Week (NPHW), hosted by the American Public Health Association (APHA). Under the theme Healthiest Nation 2030: Changing Our Future Together, organizations nationwide shone a spotlight on issues most impacting Americans right now and affecting the wellbeing of the nation – from mental health to preventable diseases, environmental health, violence and health equality.
Recently, brands have begun to reassess their products or services to promote acceptance and inclusion – creating accessible card games for colorblind players and supporting rock climbing para-athletes. The National Autistic Society even used VR to show individuals how chaotic a simple shopping experience can be for children with autism, inspiring empathy and understanding from shoppers. Now, as more companies focus on inclusivity, the NBA is acknowledging its autistic fans – evolving empathy into action.
Last week, I attended Aging in America 2018 (AIA), the American Society on Aging’s annual conference. It’s no secret we have a burgeoning aging population in America. The number of Americans ages 65 and older will more than double from 46 million today to more than 98 million by 2060. Once a year AIA brings together industry, government, and nonprofit leaders as well as consumer advocates to discuss what it means to grow old in our country, from social activism to health impact, retirement and home building design.
February is Black History Month, and many companies celebrated the month by hosting events and highlighting African American employees and icons that have inspired us and shaped history. Yet, nearly two months after the close of Black History Month, Spotify has announced that "Black History Is Happening Now.” The streaming service is debuting a multi-approach effort aimed at challenging the limited timeframe celebrating the achievements of black creators and instead encouraging their creativity year-round.
After sparking a national anti-gun violence movement, the Stoneman Douglas student group #NeverAgain is preparing to once again push for stricter gun laws with a nationwide march, led by the newest generation of activist consumers: Gen Z. This Saturday, over 1 million people are expected to descend on Washington, D.C. for the March for Our Lives, advocating for changes to gun regulations and school safety, with “sibling marches” expected to take place across the country and world. As students, parents, teachers and allies prepare for the demonstration this weekend, several businesses have taken a stance to show their support:
March 22 is World Water Day, a United Nations-led initiative bringing attention to the importance of universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene. An annual occurrence, the theme for World Water Day in 2018 is “Nature for Water,” which explores nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century. Efforts such as planting trees to replenish forests, restoring wetlands and reconnecting rivers to floodplains are sustainable, cost-effective ways to mitigate the effects of climate change – thereby improving human health.
In early March, educators, administrators, decision-makers and corporate representatives descended upon Austin, Texas for the eight annual SXSW EDU conference to discuss the current state of education, uncover gaps in the system and identify opportunities to solve some of its most pressing challenges.
Over the past few years, the topic of refugees has dominated the news. Despite the widespread conversation, the realities of wars in faraway places are still hard to grasp for most people. To help them better realize the effects of conflict, a few companies have recreated scenarios to give consumers a glimpse into how war affects people’s every day. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) just launched a new campaign to create an experience using today’s latest technology, allowing everyone, everywhere to immerse themselves in what is happening thousands of miles away.
As International Women’s Day (IWD) continues to grow in momentum year over year, so too does company involvement. While in the past, many campaigns were short-lived or focused on more narrow issues like self-esteem and confidence, the conversation – and resulting programs – are shifting. Over the past year, movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp have evolved the dialogue, prompting brands to take on weightier elements of women’s rights. This year’s #PressForChange theme encouraged brands to forgo flashy campaigns and instead focus on creating programs that can make a lasting impact. As company involvement continues to increase, we’re sharing the efforts that pushed for lasting progress, those that played it safe and some which missed the meaning of the movement:
March is National Nutrition Month®, an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound habits related to eating and physical activity. This year’s theme is “Go Further with Food” and it has a dual focus, encouraging healthy eating habits, while also urging Americans to find ways to eliminate food waste. The campaign aims to connect the dots between the health benefits of meal and snack planning with the resulting implications related to food waste.
The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been thrust into a national debate and have made it clear that thoughts and prayers are not enough – they are demanding action from politicians, schools, the NRA and even businesses. We have seen this highly-politicized and divisive issue in the news before, but this time is different. Those students can’t be ignored. Companies are increasingly more comfortable standing up for and speaking out on hot button issues that have dominated the news over the last year.
The Olympic competition in PyeongChang, South Korea was filled with dazzling displays of strength, endurance, agility and teamwork. Years of practice and training finally culminated when athletes from around the world gathered to demonstrate their abilities and compete for a chance at gold. Another impressive feat, prevalent throughout the Olympic Games and also years in the making, was the focus on environmental sustainability at the Winter Olympics.
Earlier this month, Stella Artois used the major marketing power of the Super Bowl to urge fans to help provide access to safe drinking water for people in developing nations. Now the beer giant and their longstanding partner, Water.org, are contextualizing the basic need of water and bringing the message to life – beyond the safety of TV screens and couches and into the unsuspecting real world.
Purpose has become a catch-all phrase that means different things to different people. Consumers are demanding that companies do more than make a profit and are basing their decisions on what to buy and where to work based on a company’s responsible business practices and support of social and environmental issues.
This week, agencies and major brands convened in New York City for the Holmes In2 Innovation Summit – exploring the innovation and disruption that continues to redefine influence and engagement. As the day continued, a common thread began to emerge. Although session themes varied from subculture marketing to the speed of change, all conversations inevitably turned to Purpose – and how brands are communicating their authentic roles in society in a rapidly evolving landscape of social issues and calls of injustice. Here are three takeaways for how brands are innovating towards greater Purpose:
Brandon Graham’s strip-sack late in Super Bowl LII wasn’t the only fumble during the game, as advertisers failed to take advantage of a massive audience to bring awareness to key issues and reinforce authentic advocacy. Instead, they played it safe, largely avoiding politics and purpose in favor of humor.
This weekend, the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis will attract over 66,000 people for the Super Bowl – not to mention the 100 million viewers who will be watching across the country. While much of the day’s focus will be on the players and the ads, this year’s organizers are also spotlighting another, greener aspect of the game: engaging fans throughout the evening to create the first ever zero-waste Super Bowl.
The outdoor industry has made huge strides to promote and protect the lands we love and play in. From REI’s evolved #OptOutside campaign, North Face’s climate beneficial beanie and Patagonia’s bold response to the reduction of Bears Ears National Monument, outdoor retailers engaged consumers around a passion for nature and the goal of preserving the places we cherish. Now, one organization is creating a united voice from outdoor retailers showcasing how the industry is leading with Purpose- helping consumers better understand and connect with these brands and their efforts.