Marketing | Good | Branding

Marketing for good in the age of divisive politics. The example of Expedia

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Raising walls is not good for business. Certainly, it is not good for the tourism industry, which requires openness and low/no barriers between countries.

Yet, we (meaning the so called Western World) are living in times of profoundly divisive politics.

Brexit, the wall that Trump is planning to build along the border between the US and Mexico, the referendum in Catalonia, and the rise of nationalism, xenophobia, racism in Europe, etc. are questioning those same values (e.g. openness, equality of rights, unity between and among people, and democracy itself) that constitute the basis upon which Western societies, and economy, have been built since the end of WWII.

As it is widely acknowledged, divisive politics thrives on fear and anxiety. Technology, meaning digital technology, doesn’t seem to be helping.

In a recent post titled “Marketing in the Age of Anxiety“, Mia Pearson explains that ‘that’s  because our phones are constantly buzzing with news apps and social-media status updates about natural disasters, the threat of nuclear war and the fracturing political landscape south of the border’.

Many brands, CEOs and firms, the author continues, are being forced to take part to the broader debate on critical social-political issues and choose side like never before.

So the question. What is, or should be, the role of marketing in the age of divisive politics? How can marketing convey positive messages in such a social-political climate?

Answering the question is paramount for tourism economy.

Expedia is launching a campaign based on documentary-like videos focusing on the deeds and accomplishments of ordinary and mostly disregarded people who usually play no role in the glittering images of ‘cool’ advertising.

Real stories about real people shedding beauty and inspiring hope in human kind’s capacity for good.

By doing so, Expedia also demonstrates how, Rachel Gee explains, it is possible to ‘break advertising stereotypes by showing how different people use its service in different ways, reflecting the fact it appeals to “everyone’s needs”’.

One of these videos tells the story of Julien, a lorry driver from Birmingham, who drives all the way down to Madrid to fulfil his dream to attend an opera performance.

The other story that has been published so far is about David Kenward, a photographer affected by the Down Syndrome who travelled to Iceland to capture northern lights with his family and won the Down’s Syndrome Association’s My Perspective photography competition in 2015.

Hate, intolerance and social exclusion are again on the rise even in a country like Germany, which has done so much to ban these behaviours from the social-political discourse.

Being at the basis of social-political uncertainty and volatility, such behaviours risk of seriously damaging economy, tourism industry in particular, as they are turned into governmental action.

Therefore, we agree with Mia Pearson as she concludes that there is no better time than this to ‘celebrate inclusiveness, global collaboration and the promise of a better world’. Or, we might say, inclusiveness and global collaboration as necessary conditions for a better world and a more sustainable and healthier economic growth.

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