Movement Marketing With its Own Cause

This post was originally published on LinkedIn While the majority of companies who use movement marketing for their products latch onto a cultural movement or cause that already exists, a few companies have managed to create their own cultural movement, such as Levi’s, or American Express with their Small Business Saturday movement.


As noted in the previous blog post, success in movement marketing is more often dependent on a business model which appears to work backwards from the normal marketing model – instead of having the product featured front and centre, with marketing materials constructed and arranged in a manner which will best highlight it, movement marketing puts the product last in favour of finding a movement or a cause which is championed by a large chunk of society, and then finding a product which will fit in with that cause, just as Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS shoes did with his business.

Sometimes, however, companies approach movement marketing from the opposite direction – with the product still placed proudly front and centre in all their decisions. These companies, such as Levi’s and American Express, have both created their own successful cultural movement which has their own product(s) placed in the centre as something that is needed in order to become part of the movement, which is the case with Levi’s, as seen below.

Levi’s adverts, particularly for its jeans lines, are movement marketing almost to a fault. The 2011 advert for Levi’s had the tagline Go Forth, highlighting that Levi’s jeans, and therefore by extension the people wearing those jeans, where adventure-seeking go-getters! By creating a cultural movement wherein people who follow a certain lifestyle (which is implied by the 2011 advert at least to be outside of mainstream culture) and are not afraid of showing wear a specific item of clothing, in this case Levi’s jeans, the company have managed to create a movement which would allow them to sell their products.

The 2011 advert features people wearing the jeans while doing things like attending a street festival, facing down riot police and kissing underwater. Their marketing campaign effectively reaches people from both sides of the movement, since their products will now be used by the people already covered by the new movement created by Levi’s and also by people who want to become more involved in the movement, and therefore buy the product.

The Small Business Saturday as conceived by American Express is an interesting use of movement marketing in that there doesn’t seem to be a tangible endpoint (i.e. a product) in sight. Perhaps American Express has the ultimate goal of bringing more people into its own sphere of influence through use of the American Express Credit card, but when it comes down to it, there is no direct product behind their marketing campaign.

Small Business Saturday was initially thought up as an antidote to Black Friday, with its focus on big box retailers, to make people more aware of small business in the local are or online. American Express marketed it very heavily through a range of social media and traditional marketing avenues, even co-opting the already existing hashtags #smallbusinesssaturday that existed on Twitter. Since this movement has been growing in popularity, many small businesses have begun to put on sales and discounts to take advantage of the increased business.

This is, however, movement marketing as it was fundamentally supposed to be, since the entire reasoning behind this method of marketing is to rocket brands to new heights while championing a cause or two and being socially responsible. Blake Mycoskie references social responsibility quite heavily when he talks about his motives for the business, so perhaps American Express is championing small businesses as part of their contribution of being socially responsible.

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Arnt Eriksen. Simplifying the complexity
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