Festival Intelligence: Raising spirits with socially responsible marketing | M&M Global

Festival Intelligence: Raising spirits with socially responsible marketing

Putting environmental, economic and social issues at the heart of business operations is imperative to becoming a sustainable brand in today’s society. If brands are to thrive, they can no longer sit on the sidelines of these issues, they need to have a social conscience in order to truly connect with customers.

Research shows that 70% of millennials are willing to spend more with brands that support causes they care about or align with their own values; consequently, social responsibility has become a considerable priority to brands. Furthermore, a study by Pew Research Center indicates that the millennial generation is also far more likely than their older counterparts to support strict environmental policies; 80% preferred to work for employers with sustainability practices in place and as part of the mission of the company.

Speaking on stage at the Festival of Media LatAm 2018, Adriana Grineberg, Regional Director for Facebook Latin America, said: “When you do good for people, you feel really good. In [today’s] market, we have to find a way to bring our brands to the next level. We have always sought for our products to be more diverse, better for the people. When business thrives, people thrive. It’s a combination; not only one or the other. Doing good for the people is good for the business.”

She urged brands and businesses to ask: “What are brands doing to support society? What can we do to make communities stronger and bring communities together? How can our products and services be more inclusive? How can our message be more diverse?”

Three of the key themes from the Festival of Media LatAm Awards 2018, explored in an earlier Festival Intelligence piece, were: People, Power and Purpose. As an overarching idea, it’s encouraging to see advertisers across the region focusing their efforts to a greater cause. But digging a little deeper, some entries also gave us a glimpse into campaigns that put social and environmental causes at the heart of their marketing efforts. From rebuilding community spirits following a hurricane disaster in Puerto Rico to putting the spotlight on deforestation in Colombia, brands and organisations are turning their focus to socially responsible marketing in more creative ways than ever before.  

From exhibitions and events, to OOH, local radio and print media, influencers and utilising the power of music, these campaigns used a range of techniques and strategic partnerships with relevant organisations to create a sense of community spirit, bring people together and raise awareness around a worthy cause.

Social media had a huge role to play in creating the reach and impact to spread the message virally, with earned media and PR proving to be key metrics for such campaigns.

“When you find the right combination of things that can be good to your business, have authenticity to your brand, these types of initiatives are good for business, are good for the brand, are fantastic for organisations, and obviously for the causes we are trying to support. It’s really a win win type of idea,” said Luciana Resende Lotze, SVP Marketing Latin America and Caribbean, Visa. “Everybody wants to do good. By nature, human beings like to do good things. But I think it’s important to do good things that are authentic to what we are as organisations and what we are as brands, because otherwise it’s a fake effort and it tends to be short lived.”

As the younger generation becomes smarter and more savvy about the world around them, they take pride in identifying which brands aren’t just talking the talk, but actually walking the walk. For advertisers to really make an impact in society, they need to align to a cause that not only addresses a social, economic or environmental issue but does so in a way that is authentic, relevant and true to its brand values.

We put the spotlight on two Festival of Media LatAm Awards 2018 winning campaigns, which highlight this trend:

Deforested Bones | Museo De Historia Natural, Universidad Nacional De Colombia | Havas Media | Colombia

Shortlisted for: Best Use of Ambient Media (GOLD WINNER), Best Event / Experiential Campaign (SILVER WINNER)


Deforestation in Colombia is out of control. Between 2015 and 2016, it has increased by 44%. That’s more than 440,000 acres of forest and vegetation gone in one year, the equivalent of an area twice the size of New York City. Museo De Historia Natural needed to go way beyond campaigns that broadcast moralising messages to get Colombians to notice, but it did not have much budget for broadcasting. It needed to find something new that had never been done before to talk about deforestation.

Havas Media decided to use art as a tool to show the consequences of deforestation to all Colombians and created an exposition called: Deforested Bones, in collaboration with the National University of Colombia who owns the most important natural history museum in the country. Created in 1918, it has real more than 2,000 real specimens in disciplines such as zoology, archeology, paleontology, and botany, over the years, they have become a key entity in the protection of nature and ecosystems.

Deforested Bones would transform the remains of trees into an exhibition that invites to preserve life, the vulgar remains of dead trees were transformed into life-size sculptures that represented the main nine threatened species in Colombia. More than a series of sculptures, it created a viral and emotional PR and Media campaign to increase environmental awareness among target groups, and helped promote sustainable habits, all with a very limited budget. There was no paid media, it instead leveraged tactical free media locations graciously offered for the cause.

M&M – The Song that LIT an island | M&M’s | MediaCom | Puerto Rico

Shortlisted for: Best Launch Campaign, Best Use of Traditional Media, The Creative Use of Media Awards (SILVER WINNER), The Effectiveness Award


Puerto Rico was hit by two major hurricanes in 2017, the people were struggling and the media landscape had changed. The challenge for M&M’s was to raise their spirits, within the available media post hurricane and in a category that sales were down two years in a row. The storms had also affected the media and the collapse of the local infrastructure had made it harder to achieve reach, especially on TV. It wasn’t a great environment to effectively spread a message of fun. But with Christmas coming, the island needed a break…

Music has always been a big part of the holiday season, so even though people had lost so much, it was the perfect time to help them revive their spirits – if only a little bit, and Radio was one of the media least affected. MediaCom wanted to combine M&Ms’ fun message with music, this with a strong radio and digital platform, to inject a little light relief into people’s lives. It wanted to help them on the road to rebuilding the island’s spirit.

To maximise exposure and investment, it would launch two apparently separate campaigns across different touchpoints. These efforts would slowly merge to become a single integrated campaign. A first phase was launched in OOH and social platforms, reminding Puerto Ricans of the joys of the holiday season with chorus of typical holiday songs and sonnets. For phase two, M&M’s partnered with a major radio network (less affected than TV by the devastation) and leverage its audio platform, talent and digital to launch a new, original holiday song.

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