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Brands That Shine A Light On People’s Lives


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Deepavali, also known as the Festival of Lights celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair.

So perhaps it is a fitting season to check out some brands that are doing some good themselves.

Like Maxis this year with their Deepavali campaign Light A Life, which shines a spotlight on underprivileged juvenile delinquents and provides a channel for them to get a second chance. A cool interactive short film shows how a simple touch can help.

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The journalists in the Star’s youthful offshoot R.AGE spent six months undercover posing as young girls to expose the predatory environment faced by girls as young as 13 through mobile chat apps. Their motive is to call attention to how these girls are groomed by adults with the aim of sexual exploitation and the results make a powerful case for anti-grooming laws.

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Malaysian advertising agencies have also been known to pitch in, with Naga DDB’s Alvin Teoh spearheading campaigns for good like Ride The Light (cycling around KL to deliver food sponsored by Fierce Curry House) and Stop Nursery Crimes (initiative to call attention to pedophilia in Malaysia).

But while researching for this article, we found it difficult to find Malaysian brands that have pledged to do good things as part of their vision and mission. Of course, every company has its own corporate social responsibility division, with their own beneficiaries. But cynically speaking, that’s just like handing out a Christmas present every year.

In a world of rising temperatures and vanishing species, where those who do not have enough outnumber those who have too much, it would be amazing if brands used their influence to change behavior, or dare we say it, change the world.

Globally, there has been an increasing shift to recognize that brands can be transparent and sustainable. They can be commercial entities that respect the environment, respect their labour forces and operate with integrity. They can honour their own bottom line while also considering their impact on the world and communities.

A brand like TOMS is a great example. Their One for One policy holds true for every product they launch. For every shoe purchased, a new pair of shoes is given to an underprivileged child. For every eyewear sold, part of the profit is used to restore the eyesight of someone in developing countries. With every purchase of TOMS Coffee provide 140 liters of safe water (a one-week supply) to a person in need. Purchases of TOMS Bags help provide training for skilled birth attendants and distribute birth kits containing items that help a woman safely deliver her baby.

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Or French supermarket chain Intermarché, whose Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables campaign managed to convince consumers that “ugly” produce taste just as good as their better looking peers by selling them at 30% less than normal price. This campaign called attention to food wastage brought about simply by consumer perception. Consumers loved it and are asking for more.  And this is not an initiative that’s unique to France because similar initiatives in the US and UK means that consumers are realizing that what counts is on the inside.

Finally Tesla Motors probably has the biggest vision – changing the way we power our world. Oil and gas has been proven to be an unsustainable form of fuel, so this automotive company is manufacturing and selling zero-emission cars, which cause less harm to the environment. CEO Elon Musk is hoping to influence a shift from our reliance on the current mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy to an economy driven by renewable, inexhaustible solar energy.

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How is your brand shining a light over darkness?
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