Guts, gourds & Gritty.

Greetings from Decorative Gourd Szn where almost everyone is engaging in some kind of home makeover. From elaborate halloween costumes, to stadium seating inspired living rooms, to carefully placed gourds, succulents, and puppies, our collective Zoom background game is leveling up.

We’re also celebrating our new president: Gritty.

On to the #content:

No guts, no glory

From the MoonPie Twitter account to our very own Charles the Dog, brands these days are constantly trying to engage their audiences by having opinions, making jokes, and being relatable. “Brands and publishers alike have opted for more personality in their messages, even letting certain employees include their names in corporate emails,” says Contently, and mostly, it works.

There is an exception: politics. Politics is too fraught for most brands, whose fear of alienating their audiences means often they opt for silence. There’s no faster way to light up the comments and piss people off than bringing up politics. So the closest most brands get are vague, neutral urgings to “vote.”

But here’s the thing, more and more, people are starting to a) expect brands to have an opinion and b) see the ‘business as usual’ approach as complicity. Consumers, and even employees, are taking a stand, and they expect brands to follow suit.

Taking the wrong stance, however, risks being worse than silence. Facebook and Twitter have come under fire in recent years for not doing enough to prevent misinformation, costing them employees and consumer opinion. Various CEOs have issued internal statements across various lines to varying responses. When the CEO of Coinbase issued an edict against his employees talking politics, he lost 5% of his staff. Expensify took a different approach, imploring its 10 million+ customers not just to vote, but to vote for Biden. And while it’s mostly being lauded as an act of bravery and authenticity, there was also no shortage of criticism. Given the inherent risks, many are wondering whether brands should be taking sides at all. 

For now, it makes sense for brands to practice caution. This is especially true for bigger consumer brands, with brands with huge audiences that span the political spectrum. The waters of political activism for brands are deep and murky, and a misstep could get you #cancelled. But the genie is out of the bottle, and at some point, most brands are going to have to heed the Alexander Hamilton maxim: stand for something, or fall for anything. Consumers and employees expect brands to have opinions, not just ideas, and to stick with those convictions -- and sooner or later, all of us who work in messaging are going to have to figure out what those are. At LHC, we may be small, but we already know where we stand.