The L.A. Times reported yesterday on the decision to stop a planned anti-Israel ad campaign in Seattle from moving forward. Under the slogan "Israeli War Crimes: Your Tax Dollars At Work," the "Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign," attempted to brand Israel as a vicious victimizer of the Palestinian people that violates human rights on the Americans' dime.
In a brilliant response to this cover for anti-Semitism, the David Horowitz Freedom Center came up with some ads of its own that said "Palestinian War Crimes: Your Tax Dollars At Work," with countering images.
The point here is not to debate Mideast Politics. It is that the best response to "bad branding" is not "no branding," also known as "mental environmentalism" (clearing your head from branding altogether and refusing to add more brands to the fray.) Not only is this unrealistic in a capitalist economy, it also doesn't make sense from a psychological perspective.
Just as you are more likely to succeed in eliminating bad habits by substituting good habits for them, the best response to a bad brand is to put a good brand in its place.
As we head into 2011, here are 5 key social issues that really need a good social-awareness brand campaign. PETA and the anti-tobacco folks have proved that it can be done:
1. Sexual violence should be branded as a crime against humanity (not just women); misogyny classified as a disorder
2. Natural eating and healing should be promoted as mainstream, not "alternative," with pharmaceutical and surgical options viewed as the alternative to helping the body heal itself
3. Ingredient labels should be transparent and also carry warning labels where their additives have been clinically shown to be dangerous
4. Radiation dangers from cellphones and other consumer products should be shared with the customer when the product is bought, and recommendations for minimizing the danger provided as well
5. Cruelty to animals in the supply chain should be studied, highlighted, and stopped.
There is a world of savvy branding and marketing talent out there that can bring their creativity and insight to bear on these issues. I pray that this happens soon.