Brands don't have to be worthy to educate their consumers
A view from Sumen Rannie

Brands don't have to be worthy to educate their consumers

SodaStream's commercial director explains why the brand has used shock tactics to spread its message of ditching plastic bottles.

Is shock marketing more important than ever? Courting controversy to make an impact isn’t by any means new. But in a world where consumers are bombarded with picture perfect ideals, and multiple marketing messages at every turn, the need to cut through the clutter is stronger than ever.

This is all the more prevalent when there is also a serious educational point to be made.

Education doesn’t have to be worthy. It needs to talk to the consumer where they are, in the manner in which they talk to each other. That’s the only way to stand a chance at making an impact.

Earlier this month, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that SodaStream was at fault for use of offensive language in a 2016 advertising campaign.

"Shame or glory" was a campaign created to raise awareness of the plastic pollution crisis facing our planet today.

There is a latent understanding, in the UK in particular, that if you put your bottles into domestic recycling, that that’s job done. But that is sadly not the case because this plastic can’t be fully recycled so heads to landfill or into our seas.

It’s a fact: plastic bottles are polluting our planet. They are poisoning our parks, rivers and oceans, and even killing wildlife.

The ad was always intended to speak to 25 years+ adults, in an emotional, affective and disruptive way, in order to spark a much-needed discussion about the issue.

We’re marketing in a time when consumers simply don’t want to see worthy fluff.

They want hard and fast realism; quick and to the point.

We only have to look at the pattern of media consumption over the last few years. Men’s magazines, for example, have all but disappeared.

Instead, consumption of sharing portals like The Lad Bible has skyrocketed, with funny, relatable content, and a huge amount of shock factor: the driving force behind the content.

As marketing professionals our advertising needs to marry this shift, and reach our audience where they are, speaking to them in their tone of voice.

This is never more true than when it comes to the education of serious issues.

So, as a responsible brand, we wholly believe that the UK consumer deserves the right to know the truth, and sometimes we have to shock a little in order to cut through the clutter and deliver that.  

Brands need to put themselves in their consumer’s mindset in order to create campaigns that educate in a creative, inspiring and relatable way; not just to educate, but also instigate much-needed behaviour change.

Sumen Rannie is commercial director at SodaStream UK