Step up instead of backing down

Dear brands,

A kind invitation for not hitting the brakes.

A tiny call to ‘think differently’. You all used to like that line, don’t you?

Imagine for a moment. You own a little shop, and your mother is old and needs help. Would you send her groceries and charge for the delivery? One of your long-standing suppliers is having some temporary issues. You know him, you trust him, as he always trusted you. Would you extend his credit line or sue him into bankruptcy? And if your village is hit by a catastrophe, would you turn up at the fundraising, even donate some money or would you run away from it all?

Since 2018 I witnessed so many of you using the term “brand activism”.

Every now and then you ventured out into an idle attempt to get involved in meaningful conversations.

The world - our world- is now facing a shared problem and I guess this is the one time where you can and should stand up and get involved.

Over the past days, I heard numerous stories about brands cancelling their campaigns and initiatives (social gatherings should be avoided - true that). Is it the smart thing to do?

Why not consider how to get involved, actively helping the ‘reset’ of our systems and prepare us all for what seems a different kind of society.

Speak up, give back, be bold and dare to create a different kind of initiatives that help us (your loyal customers) nurture a different mindset, shape a different social behaviour.

Strong brands reflect on how to break down anxiety.

They give back to those who put their trust in your products when everything was ‘ok’.

Your responsibility now is not about shareholder value, or about securing what you used to be or what used to work.

This is your chance to be that brand that put brand activism in practice.

An opportunity to exercise your power. This uncertain situation is the perfect backdrop to create impact.

This is not the time to put your campaigns on hold because panic is preventing you from not seeing the next ‘trend’ you could blindly follow.

This is your unique chance to hear the concerns, fears and emotional needs from the elderly, the vulnerable, the isolated singles, the struggling young parents, … and to bring them unexpected solutions way out of your short-term results thinking comfort zone.

Instead of panicking on the foresight they might not find their way to the stores and your products, bring your innovative or simply human solution to them.

Rethink. I was touched by the story of Esselunga, an Italian retailer, illustrating that you can actually turn your promise into simple good actions. Read it here, because they stepped up, delivered goods to the elderly without charging for delivery, donating huge chunks of money to local healthcare initiatives and extending their credit lines to their struggling suppliers.

Don’t hit the brakes, rethink and steer firmly in a new direction.

Karin De Bruyn, co-founder Spectra



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Spectra - Flanders - Belgium