How brands in Latin America can leverage the power of advertising to address social causes

Many consumers in Latin America are no longer content to let brands sit on the sidelines of tough conversations. The events of 2020 have increased the public’s expectation that companies will take a stand on top-of-mind social issues, such as discrimination, poverty, and climate change.

In a January 2021 poll, market research company Opinion Box found that internet users in Brazil ages 16 and older believed that brands should support social causes like combating hunger and poverty (58%), sustainability (53%), fighting against violence against women (51%), and racial equality (49%).

But how do brands become agents of change? Beyond volunteering or making charitable donations, companies can also leverage the unique power of advertising to help social causes.

According to April 2019 research from MindMiners, internet users in Brazil believed that advertising had a considerable amount of power to promote diversity and reduce environmental problems, social inequalities, and corruption.

Although some companies have stayed on the sidelines, others have been investing heavily in creating more diverse and inclusive campaigns that better reflect society. As a result, consumers can easily identify brands that align with their values.

Given the significant role advertising plays in shaping society, companies that decide to embrace a social cause should keep these tips in mind:

  1. Stick to brand values. Brands should not decide to support a social cause just because their competitors are doing so or because they think it might look good in the moment. Initiatives should organically align with a company’s core mission and values.
  2. Know your audience. Brands that truly understand their customers can take stronger stands on social causes. In doing so, companies can connect with customers on a deeper level or potentially reach new ones—which can drive growth and increased brand loyalty.
  3. Have a strategy to deal with consumer backlash. Brands should prepare for the possibility that they will upset a portion of their customer base. If backlash ensues, they should respond quickly and thoughtfully, but ensure consistency in messaging.