How Socially Responsible Spots Pay Off for Brands

We’ve seen a dramatic uptick in corporate social responsibility (CSR)––it takes form in highly coveted ad time during major television events: the Super Bowl, the Oscars, etc. It’s almost as if the commercial breaks are short film series in themselves. That commercial time now has something to say. What effects do these socially conscious brand spots have on the market? Or is the market the reason behind the responsibility?

How Millennials spend their money largely depends on where they think their money could serve the greater good. Young people aged 17 to 34 represent $200 billion in spending power and will spend $10 trillion in their lifetime. The reason behind more social responsibility in advertising stems from the Millennials’ avid concern with social issues. Diversity, acceptance, tolerance, love, etc––all are areas for which younger audiences invest in. Not only is their spending power vast, their ability to cram in hours of content in a 24 hour period is astonishing.

One report suggests that 80% of Millennials use two or more internet devices while watching TV. In order to grab their attention––and their disposable income––companies must seize their opportunity to talk about something Millennials care about. It’s not about randomly picking a cause; it’s about standing up for a purpose. No matter what the jeremiad, Millennials are savvy. They can see through hollow attempts to seem socially responsible. The payoff for having a purpose is substantial. Millennials form ironclad loyalty for brands they connect with; 70% of Millennial consumers say they always go back to brands they love.

Let’s take a look at some recent companies who have tapped into the social consciousness in video content to further their brand’s viability.


Microsoft | “#MakeWhat’sNext: Change the Odds”

In the powerful story, we see a host of pre-teen girls discussing their dreams and their passion in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Each girl aspires to invent something, to change the world. All of a sudden, there’s a sobering reality presented to them: the odds are, they’ll never achieve their dreams because only 6.7% of U.S graduate college with STEM degrees.

Their faces drop. The enthusiasm seems sucked right out of the room. Something amazing happens––they defy the statistic. One of the girls stands her ground and says, “I will cure breast cancer.” It’s a powerful moment, and the spot directs its audience to visit Microsoft’s initiative for young girls to pursue STEM studies: The harsh, realistic tone sets the stage for these girls to overcome the odds––especially when they’re presented with the challenge to “Change the Odds.”



Hyatt | “For a World of Understanding”

The commercial is a string of engaging vignettes of different people exploring parts of the world unfamiliar to them. As the spot rolls on, the travelers interact with the locals in meaningful gestures. A Muslim woman on a train picks up a woman’s scarf that had dropped to the ground. A man tries some food from a local market that he’s not accustomed to. The moments are small––but they’re powerful.

Hyatt launched their World of Hyatt initiative. If you go to, you can peruse their campaign for understanding cultures other than your own through travel and meaningful gestures. There are several interesting avenues within that website that allow you to see POV videos of people from around the world. Perhaps the most intriguing portion is the partnership Hyatt has with an organization that sponsors American students to travel abroad, Learning AFAR. The whole campaign culminates into a beautiful story about travel and how we can connect with each other on a human level through understanding.



Nike | “What Will They Say About You?”

Besides being a gorgeously shot commercial, the new Nike spot invokes a timely issue to unveil their new line of sporty hijabs. It’s a series of Muslim women athletes engaging in their sport and their passions. Throughout, there are bystanders who stare at the women––perhaps their judging or intrigued. In defiance, the women continue to run, swim, box, ice skate, and fence.

The commercial is a continuation of Nike’s Equality campaign, an initiative that promotes inclusivity in sports; to stand up for everyone. The company states, “[E]quality is about Nike raising its voice and using the power of sport to stand up for the value of equality and to inspire people to take action in their communities… Together with our athletes, employees, and communities, we are encouraging people to take the respect and fairness they see on the field and translate it off the field. We can help advance the conversation and create lasting change.” The new commercial was so affecting that the spokeswoman of the International Red Cross in Iraq, Sara Al-Zawqari took to Twitter to commend the bold statement.



People want to support companies who stand up for causes they believe in, especially younger consumers. The market for engaging video content has radically changed for the better. The allegiance of Millennial consumers is all too enticing; 70% will spend more on brands that support causes. Cinematic, stunning visuals can engross an audience into action––whether it be to promote STEM studies in young girls, to better understand each other, or to break through social paradigms. It’s all about building a positive brand message, starting with being a company with a purpose. Tell the world what you believe in and how you bring about progress and change in your communities.

–by Benton Olivares