During a recent focus group I was moderating, a young participant explained how she shopped: “Sometimes I call the company and speak with a representative, just to get a sense of the company culture.”
People increasingly want to know if companies are walking the talk. This is especially true for activist brands. Shoppers aren’t just Googling, they’re investigating.
So, if you’re working on an issue-driven advertising strategy, consider borrowing some thinking from the field of litigation consulting --the communication experts whose court room narratives often leverage perceptions about social issues.
- Don’t hesitate to identify and remove bias from your arguments.
In the courtroom, the perception of bias within a single argument will cast doubt across the entire presentation. Therefore, attorneys and their litigation consultants are careful to remove bias from their own cases. For example, witness testimony, third party research data and even mock jury feedback are filtered to remove bias.
Likewise, brand strategists need to filter their issue-driven strategies. Even if your brand supports something with broad appeal like sustainability, take another look at the context of your message. Does your performance data look cherry-picked? Are your supporting points objective or purely opinion-based? Have you considered the second order impacts of proposed alternatives? What are the financial interests of people on either side of the issue?
- Test your strategy by arguing the other side.
Litigation consultants must play the devil’s advocate in order to anticipate arguments and strengthen counterarguments.
Brand strategists should do the same when supporting controversial positions. Make the opposing case, without assuming ignorance or selfish intentions. If you’re unable to craft an opposing argument, you may need to do more research. On the other hand, if you’re proposing a solution that everyone can agree upon, a common ground initiative could be a big win for your brand.