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The social role of brands: Emily Abrera at AD Summit Pilipinas

MANILA – Having a social impact has never been more important for brands than it is today, advertising legend Emily Abrera said at her talk entitled “Purpose, Meaning, Advocacy.”

According to Abrera, brands today are faced with the challenge of gaining loyalty from millennials, who are turning out to be discerning consumers.

“Brand building today is considerably tougher than in the century that just passed,” Abrera said. “It seems to me that consumer loyalty is more elusive than ever.”

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Citing an SDL study on the Millenial Mindset, she explained that millenials—who are now gaining purchasing power—are “always on,” and that two out of three millenials touch two different devices daily. She also said that a big portion of consumers is willing to pay for brands that support good causes.

In building trust for brands among millenials, Abrera recommended that advertisers “create purpose-driven brands.”

“We have moved up from brands being simply commercial ventures and brand building, going beyond that, brands are expected to have some other kind of role, some other kind of exalted role than just the commercial,” Abrera later said in an interview with adobo Magazine.

“Not that a commercial role is bad per se, business is business. But in order to have an increasingly meaningful way of interacting with its consumers, customers, brands always have to take on this social role. What exactly is the social role that fits a specific brand, that’s going to be answered by the brand itself,” she added.

In her talk, Abrera said that a good brand purpose is non-competitive, may never be attainable, inspires teamwork, and speaks to the human soul.

She differentiated between advocacies and a company’s corporate social responsibility: “Advocacies are bigger, more meaningful, more engaging than CSR.”

“Very often, a company will do some CSR. It likes to do good, but usually these are just responses to tragedies, or the needs of the times. That’s all very okay, but that’s opportunistic. You can’t be doing that every day,” she said. “Today consumers are very active on social media. You can’t get away with that. So that’s the role, it’s not even a role anymore that you have to aspire to, you just have to make sure that you’re walking the talk.”

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