Trading on Responsibility

What do three leading brands — a beer, a wireless service, and a life & casualty insurance company — have in common?

Valuing responsibility, or at least trading on it.Anheuser-Busch has had a “Drink Responsibly” media campaign for awhile.

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Verizon Wireless has had a “Drive Responsibly” media campaign for awhile.

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And just less than three months ago, Liberty Mutual launched a campaign around the words “Responsibility. What’s Your Policy?”

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Click on each image above to see the branding on their web sites.

The campaigns by Anheuser-Busch and Verizon Wireless make good sense for the company’s social responsibility image. Obviously the use of each product poses risks if engaging in certain activities — like driving! In fact, the American Beverage Institute puts the two brand’s campaign slogans together in their own social responsibility campaign.

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I was pleased for both Anheuser-Busch and Verizon Wireless when I began hearing and seeing their spots. I can’t say the messages dramatically altered my buying behavior in terms of choosing their brands over competing brands. I selected my cell service based on a technology-service mix Verizon Wireless didn’t offer. And I think the Anheuser-Busch product that I do enjoy I selected for a combination of taste and carb-count. I think… (-: But I do have more positive impressions of Anheuser-Busch and Verizon Wireless based on their taking such public positions. In fact, while checking out Anheuser-Busch’s web presence I came across this image suggesting that Anheuser-Busch’s stance has been around for awhile.

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But the Liberty Mutual campaign is based on much more than social responsibility. It’s built on personal responsibility as a core societal value, AND, it puts the company on the line as saying that they operate from a position of responsibility as a policy (“Responsibility. What’s Your Policy?”).

Now that could affect my buying behavior.

I want to do business with people who study and practice personal responsibility, and Liberty Mutual promises they do. That means I can expect them to go the extra mile in terms of being in relationship with me as a customer. And it means to me that if I am dissatisfied with the service I receive from them, that we can have a talk about what it means to operate from responsibility as a policy!

Liberty Mutual’s campaign attracted attention immediately. I read that some people are seeing this as one of the more powerful advertising moves since Southwest Airlines started trading on Fun. I know a little bit about the nexus of that ad campaign for Southwest. Living in Austin a few years ago I visited with Roy Spence of GSD&M, the hugely successful advertising company behind Southwest Airlines’ ads. Roy told me that the strategy was to link the company’s product to it’s culture and communicate that culture in advertising messages (I call this “product integrity” when you recognize tthe culture in the product and vice-versa). He says they nailed it with Southwest. To make his point Roy said to me that the ads they created for Southwest Airlines would never work for another airline like American or Delta. So, some people are saying that Hill Holiday has achieved the same thing for Liberty Mutual since Liberty is known for operating from a position of responsibility. Let’s hope so. Time will tell.

Some questions for you:
What do you think?
What other brands or groups do you see trading on responsibility? (Please keep me informed!)

Posted in Responsibility on 09/02/2006 03:03 pm
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