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We live in an interesting age – some might say it is a more enlightened one. With greater exposure to information come deeper understanding and more empathy. With the World Wide Web and social media, something that happens thousands of kilometers away can feel as immediate as something that happens right at our doorstep.

As people, we can now share in the suffering of total strangers, and it is interesting to see how brands deploy their marketing in response to this paradigm shift.

For a long time, the traditional mode of advertising was to create an image that inspires aspiration in the customer. The idea is that a product could endow prestige, glamour, beauty, power and happiness to a customer simply by virtue of owning it.

But now in 2017, brands are increasingly starting to do good for the good of their bottom line. Instead of selling sex, brands are now peddling “social benefit”, altruism and a willingness to lend a helping hand in a crisis.

The idea is not just to trigger good feelings, but also to ensure that all important talkability factor.

The recent immigration ban imposed by new US president Donald Trump presents some interesting cases.

Uber found itself in a spot of trouble when #DeleteUber started to make its rounds. The catalyst of this brand crisis was when the New York Taxi Alliance joined a protest against the immigration ban, choosing not to pick up passengers from JFK airport for an hour on the day of protest. But this caused Uber’s pricing to surge, making it seem like the brand was being opportunistic.

Consumers were angry to say the least, with reportedly over 200,000 customers deleting their accounts. Uber has since said that it will create $3 million defense fund to help cover legal, immigration and translation costs for drivers affected by Trump’s immigration and travel ban.


AirBnb has also responded to the ban, with CEO Brian Chesky tweeting that it is providing free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US, asking for people to contact him if in urgent need for housing. AirBnb has also previously committed to providing housing for homeless in major cities like Los Angeles and New York.

Facebook activated a safety check service in response to the devastating earthquake in Nepal in 2015. It allows users near a disaster site to let their loved ones know that they are safe.

And a “Donate”  button placed temporarily on top of user’s Newsfeed allowed Facebook to raise $10million to aid the recovery efforts in Nepal.


Closer to home telco Maxis helped flood victims last year in Sarawak to turn their pots for boiling water into phone chargers with something called the SOS Power Pot. A portable device that converts thermal energy to electricity, it was distributed to affected families along with boxes of flood relief supplies.

So, with the knowledge that being good is actually good for business, how do you think your brand can contribute to helping people out, especially in a crisis?
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How would your brand participate in the golden age of the geek?

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