Monsanto, Abercrombie & Fitch, And The Greatest New Threat To Your Brand: Your Customers

Simon Mainwaring / Brands / 6 years ago

At the end of 2010 I wrote about the ‘Coming Decade of Radical Transparency.’ My prediction for 2012 was the ‘Rise of Consumer Activism.’ We now find ourselves in mid-2013 and these two issues have combined, leaving brands facing a well-informed, media-savvy and mobilized audience intent on punishing behavior that does not serve the greater good.

This challenge did not emerge out of thin air. Emboldened by the citizen and consumer activism of the Arab Spring Revolutions and #OccupyWallStreet, these customers (especially Millennials and Gen Z) have grown up in a marketplace in which brands and consumers are locked in a dynamic dialogue about who they are, what they make and why they do it. Yet recent conversations played out in traditional and social media have taken this to a new level in terms of volume and frequency.

The recent protests against Monsanto over their use of GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) have taken on unprecedented proportions. According to the AP, “March Against Monsanto” protests took place in at least 52 countries and 436 cities amassing over 2 million people attacking the agribusiness giant over genetically modified foods. The movement grew from a Facebook page that called for boycotts against Monsanto-owned companies, pushing for GMO labeling and further studies of the health effects of GMOs.

Nor will this be a short-lived phenomenon. For example, a 26-year-old Los Angeles-based, freelance programmer, Ivan Pardo, has just launched a mobile app called Buycott. Once you’ve scanned an item, Buycott will show you its corporate family tree on your phone screen to see if you want to support that company’s profit by purchasing that product.


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  1. Avatar Dino Dogan says:

    Hi Simon,

    I was speaking at Mark Burges’ Rutgers class last night, and Cheryl Burges was there as well. She talked my ear off about you 🙂

    She’s a huge fan of yours, and she made me watch your videos lol I didnt mind. Great stuff indeed.

    I was showing her the new Influence Marketing campaign features of Triberr (in skunkworks phase, not visible to public) and she thought you had to see that stuff. Are you in NY? We’re right across the bridge in NJ. I’m 11 miles outside the City.

    email me

    1. Avatar Simon Mainwaring says:

      Thanks so much Dino but I’m in lA. But feel free to post a link here and I’ll check it out. Or Cheryl has my email. Sounds interesting and thanks for watching the video!

  2. Avatar mcdargh says:

    Insightful commentary. May we add Walmart and The Gap to the mix? Question: how do you provoke and evoke corporate leaders to realize that you can do well (profit) and do good (purpose) at the same time?

    1. Avatar Simon Mainwaring says:

      Thanks. I would show them Edelman’s GoodPurpose report, Havas Media’s Meaningful Brands Report and Cone Inc 2013 CSR study. They make the business case why they should. Hope that helps.

  3. […] do I protect my brand against the rising tide of consumer activism? Today’s customers are becoming more aggressive and sophisticated in their attack on brands. How […]

  4. […] do I protect my brand against the rising tide of consumer activism? Today’s customers are becoming more aggressive and sophisticated in their attack on brands. […]