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The Future of Brand Activism: New York


Last week we had the pleasure of sharing our Beyond Brand Purpose: The Future of Brand Activism insight report and event series The Hoxton Williamsburg, NYC.

TCO’s Head of Insight Helen Job presented new and exclusive insights from the ‘Beyond Brand Purpose: The Future of Brand Activism’ report and was joined by brilliant line up of panelists from S’well, Ab InBev and WeCompany. The report was the focus of a discussion where Helen shared her key findings and strategic recommendations:

"Brand activism is not something to be ignored, or to be worried about in some imagined future. The future is now. The rules of the relationship between people, product and the planet are being completely re-written. If brands don’t get onboard with this, they risk vilification, or even obsolescence. Our report is an essential read, detailing how in identifying a core brand purpose and reason to believe, brands and companies at large can make strategic decisions that align with their values and still effect positive change.”


Moderated by TCO Account Director, Stefanie Sword-Williams, our panellists discussed how brands can embrace activism in different ways from looking at issues that are close to home to galvanising industries to do better together. We explored a range of themes throughout the event, here are some highlights from each of our panelists:

“When our government started doing xenophobic actions on our borders we decided to make a commitment to hiring refugees, so we said we want to hire 1500 refugees. But then we went further because we have member companies that use our spaces, we actually put out a challenge to them and said we want you to make a commitment to hiring refugees. We also worked with a number of Fortune 500 companies and we’re encouraging them to make similar commitments. For us it comes back to the roots of the word activism, which is action. We’re not writing a letter saying we should open our borders, we’re doing what we can about it, which is completely tied into what we stand for and what we do.”- Darrick Borowski, WeCompany

When you think about activism and what causes we should support, we don’t have to look very far. We have an obligation to do the right thing, for the people who are in our communities, either the people contributing to the product we’re making or the people buying the product. We have to make sure those economies are healthy and vibrant. We do better when they do better, because we’re all the same people. Each one of our brands have a brand purpose and authentic reason, so they each have a role to play in society.” - Elisabeth Conrad, Ab InBev

“We have to be really careful to avoid preaching. Brands or companies should never tell consumers what they need to do because that’s the opposite of opening a conversation and being inclusive. Not everyone wants to do it, but you should find a way to have a conversation and bring people together rather than tearing them apart. You also need to understand what your brand is about, whether you have authentic reasons to be having this conversation, and whether you are brave enough to enter into it.” - Josh Dean, S’well

Our next event will be taking place at Cannes Lions Festival, if you are interested in finding out more about our first report - Beyond Brand Purpose: The Future of Brand Activism please contact with your name and company details.