Brands for a cause: Maltesers

We’ve blogged before about Maltesers’ recent advertising campaigns that have focused on representing disabled people’s lives in a ‘lighter’ way, and this week they have increased their efforts by releasing a bus stop advertisement entirely in braille, with the raised dots the size and shape of a Malteser.

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(Maltesers)

(The sign reads “Caught a really fast bus once, turns out it was a fire engine. #LookOnTheLightSide”)

In many ways Maltesers taking up the mantle for disability and becoming a ‘Cause Brand’ feels like a strange fit – do people really want their chocolate snack to take a political stance? Or are Maltesers’ efforts assuaging our guilt; we can buy their chocolate safe in the knowledge that they support the rights of disabled people, and we need not worry about disabled issues.

It’s interesting to consider whether a brand such as Maltesers has the right to talk about these causes and adopt a stance on issues such as disability awareness. Perhaps a good indicator would be to evaluate whether they mirror this stance internally, for example with policies that make sure that members of the disabled community are represented in their staff teams.

There is a broader question as to whether it should be the role of brands to advocate for these causes in society. The progressive stance that has been adopted by certain brands such as Mac, Smirnoff and Always has gone some way to shift our cultural thinking, but should it not be the government (or we the people) who take this on ourselves? Perhaps it is the case that because these brands take up the cause, we feel we need not worry about it.

always
(Always)

From a branding perspective we’re wondering if this poster is indicative of a larger trend towards representation, intersectionality and inclusivity becoming the norm for all brands, or if like so many marketing gimmicks before, it is just a fad that will pass when disability/transgender/women’s rights become unfashionable and are no longer the hot topic of conversation.

We’ll continue to update you on brands that are taking on a particular cause, and whether our predictions ring true.

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