Every fortnight the team at Curated Content comes together to deliver you the latest content marketing industry round up. This week’s edition centres on some of the most prominent topics discussed at SXSW 2018, namely politics, tech, and gun control.
Walmart Enacts Brand Social Responsibility on Firearms
A much-discussed topic I’m seeing being introduced into brand storytelling is companies creating content aligned to their brand values (or politics).
In the US, in particular, in the absence of political leadership on issues such as gun control, environmental protection and equal rights, brands are taking a stand on issues to facilitate change. We’re seeing this through internal policy changes and in some instances, putting social responsibility above profits.
A powerful example was the recent decision by Walmart to review and change their policy of firearm sales, raising the age restriction for the purchase of firearms and ammunition to 21 years of age.
Brands and companies are doing the hard work to see real change happen that our governments don’t seem capable of. Boutique issue-based communications firms are helping brands navigate a knowledge-based path towards change, rather than well-intentioned brands jumping in with enthusiasm and assumptions (and getting it wrong).
In Australia, during the recent marriage equality debate, an almost endless list of brands were vocal in their support for marriage rights for LGBTQI+ Australians – it was the first time we saw the power of brand activism to influence real change. For many employees of these businesses and brands (the big and small end of town), the stand taken on the issue of marriage equality was something to be proud about. In terms of brand activism, it will be very interesting to see the next issue that mobilizes Australian brands into becoming catalysts for good.
– Cath Pope
Sadiq Khan and the Impact of Tech Companies on Society
The ‘Mark Zuckerberg 2018 Apology Tour’ has caught my attention a lot lately, but not for the data breach. It brought me back to a keynote speech from Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London at SXSW. Khan was impassioned in saying that the rules that apply to ‘regular’ companies need to apply to tech companies; that tech companies need to own up and take responsibility for their impact on society. This New York Times opinion piece grabbed my eye as it’s not only questioning if we can live in a world without social media but if we can replace the current social media models.
If we look at the 2016 U.S Elections and the Arab Spring, the impact of social media is undeniable. While both of these events are representative of social media platforms’ abilities to create an online community, where do you draw the line between a positive and negative impact? Khan, in his keynote, read out some of the tweets he receives on a daily basis and they are truly representative of the lowest form of human behaviour. But Twitter doesn’t do much to ensure that these awful tweets are not put out into the public forum.
Facebook, while being an ‘online community’, is a capital-based advertising platform, and its recent algorithm changes are a testament to that. No matter how you paint it, Facebook has information and data on all 2.2 billion of its users.
Could we have a platform where users pay a moderate fee and for secure data and there no advertisers? What comes after Facebook?
I (personally) do not think we will live in a world without social media. I’ve been on various networks for as long as I can remember- starting with MSN Messenger, then MySpace. I was on Facebook in 2008- I’ve shared 10 years of my life on Facebook- which is a terrifying thought. Will I be getting off the platform anytime soon? Absolutely not. Do I hope that all of these events will create some real change on the platforms- absolutely. Change is overdue in not only how these platforms handle data, but in how they handle abuse and negative behaviour.
No matter what these companies might be called or call themselves, they all have the responsibility of managing their platforms and taking ownership for mistakes and the consequences.
– Aimee Bricker
Reporters Without Borders: Guerrilla Marketing With a Cause
In a quest counteract increased authoritarianism, Stockholm based agency Akestam Holst have been altering Google Street View maps to create quotes which various world leaders have tried to oppress.
“Russia won the White House for you Donald Trump” caused journalist Rebecca Buckwalter-Poz to be blocked by Donald Trump’s Twitter, which she argues has lost her her career. Akestam has now found a clever way to get this message out to the world given that social media platforms sadly can’t be relied upon to do so.
I commend Akestam for this classic guerrilla marketing campaign, I can’t see the quotes sticking around for too long as they are clearly against Google’s terms of service, but 10/10 for effort!
– Melissa Hull
The Problem of One-Size-Fits-All Branding
Jasmine Montgomery from Seven Brand Agency talks us through the problem of a one-size-fits-all design that takes away from a nation’s identity.
Words like “Remarkable!” … “Amazing!” … “Wonderful!” … teamed with the joyful colours of the rainbow, are designed to inspire and attract travellers yet they end up as a reminder of how not to do branding.
They neglect to show what truly makes these countries unique, or give the audience any reason to learn more about the locale. And because they all look the same, none stand out.
– Julie Nguyen
Google Still Doesn’t Understand Neural Networks
We’re still nowhere close to understanding how neural networks interpret data. Artificial neural networks are a series of nodes based on the human brain to mimic intelligent thought. We use them in marketing for interpreting large data sets and recognising audience segment patterns to see if a marketing campaign will work before it’s put in motion. Microsoft does this with its BrainMaker network to send tailored electronic direct mailers to the people likeliest to open them.
But how neural networks make these decisions is anyone’s guess. Even tech behemoths like Google are having a rough time figuring out how neural networks pass data through their many layers, and how this pass-through allows the network to recognise a new input.
For instance, in a picture of a cat and dog, the neural network takes the image and determines there’s a cat and dog in the photo based on past inputs. That part is generally understood. What is not understood is how the neural network knows how to differentiate between breeds of dog. It can identify a beagle as a beagle and a golden retriever as a golden retriever.
The fascinating part of this story is how something made completely by humans has found a way to confound us. Where you would think the architects of these networks would know everything about how they work, they’ve instead created a system that has its own living set of rules that are obscure to even the brightest minds.
That’s both an exciting reason to follow technology, and a warning to never be so conceited as to think we have complete control over what we create.
– Jesse H. Laier
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