Unilever, according to a recent Campaign article, is urging brands to be sincere in developing and executing their brand purposes in light of content surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and the death of George Floyd. Aline Santos Farhat, executive vice-president of global marketing, warned that brands play a vital role in informing the views of others during times of crisis.
"Brands need to move at the speed of culture and culture is moving faster than ever," she Santos Farhat , "A brand’s role in culture has never been more important, because people expect us to have a point of view – you don’t want to be a footpoint in history."
According to a study by Edelman, one in three people have already stopped using a brand that they think did not respond well during the pandemic. With this in mind, Santos pointed to the work of Unilever brands Lifebuoy and Domestos, which encouraged people around the world to keep themselves and their homes as clean as possible, irrespective of whether they bought Unilever products or purchased a competing brand.
The killing of Floyd in the US last week was another key topic of discussion. "The current cultural conversation is so painful and heartbreaking," she added. "It's important for brands with a voice and a platform to speak out against racist hate and violence, but it's critical that we do this in the right way."
Santos flagged up Ben & Jerry's as an example of a brand that has been doing meaningful work towards equality and maintained that the public expects brands to use their platform to speak out. The ice-cream brand – which has been vocal about its support of Black Lives Matter since the Ferguson unrest in 2014 – encouraged people to recognise a need to tackle "systemic and institutionalised racism" in society.
Santos Farhat was speaking on a Campaign Connect panel session alongside Laurent Ezekiel, chief marketing and growth officer at WPP.