Advertising as a Proponent for Cultural Change


By Elise Ott, Creative Intern

When thinking about important movements in culture, the first things that typically come to mind are art, fashion, music, literature, film, etc. You won’t find advertising on many people’s short list. But, that doesn’t mean advertising doesn’t have the power to contribute to our culture’s forward progress. When executed insightfully and purposefully, advertising can help facilitate huge cultural change.

Our current political and social climate is more polarizing than at any time in recent history, and people are rallying together to advocate for change. As advertisers, we can harness and direct this passion. It is important for advertisers and brands to realize how to successfully utilize this power and not abuse it. We have all seen examples of poor attempts in which brands use cultural events solely for profit. This usually comes off as disingenuous.

However, when done properly, brands and advertisers can start an important dialogue. The industry is becoming more conscious of the need for diversity in advertising and is helping the nation move forward by featuring more diverse roles in ad content. Agencies are also branching out of traditional advertising and creating culturally innovative solutions like branded music festivals. For instance, Budweiser created a festival with a variety of artists under the umbrella of being "made in America." This kind of content is innovative and culturally relevant.

As advertisers, we have the unique ability to be a catalyst for change. Some cultural movements and innovations can seem high-brow and irrelevant to the general public, but advertising has the ability to reach a wider, more uninvolved audience. Because of this, it is a creative’s responsibility to look for ways to respond to briefs in culturally innovative and conscious ways.