21st April 2019 turned out to be a tragic surprise for Sri Lankans. The Easter Sunday attacks placed the country in the limelight, causing deaths to hundreds. The entire nation is keen on not giving rise to another tragedy that is reminiscent of the civil war that took place for 30 years in the country. Hence, harbouring unity & togetherness is considered to be the only antidote to prevent another disaster.
In an attempt to assess the values that the nation upholds, a Twitter-based poll conducted by Sparkwin Research revealed that 2/3 of people believe ‘country first’ over religion and race – a strong sense of oneness as a country is apparent, irrespective of racial or ethnic disparities. There’s a firm belief that people should inculcate these values to promote a harmonised country, as opposed to relying on politicians and political schemes.
Even on a global scale people have ceased solely relying on politics to bring solutions to shared social challenges. Research carried out by Edelmen in 2016 suggested that 69% of people globally trust businesses to keep pace with a changing world, while only 47% trust governments to do the same.
In this light, community-driven initiatives towards promoting harmony are considered to be genuine & authentic. For example, Blok & Dino – a famous micro-celebrity duo in Sri Lanka, made an animated video titled ‘the story of little island’. The video soon went viral, achieving more than 25000 reactions. The video was a creative demonstration of the joy and happiness that harmony can bring to the nation versus the long term irreversible negative implications caused by the acts of anger and violence.
Hence, people adore and endorse reconciliation brands that seek to promote social harmony and repair the bonds of our shared humanity. These brands take positive and meaningful actions to address social tensions to bring harmony. Such initiatives transcend mere PR campaigns and help brands to engage with the consumer at a deeper level – being able to address their socially poignant inner tensions.
Leveraging this movement, Softlogic Life – a leading life insurance brand in Sri Lanka, started a series of positive messaging with the hashtag #SpreadingPositivity – aimed at establishing the importance of staying together as a country. The campaign was positively received and embraced by people of all races and ethnicities.
What impact does this have on brands?
Brands that make genuine efforts to promote harmony and heal conflict stemming from division are a step closer to creating deeper connection and emotional engagement. Businesses must think how can my brand address the social tension meaningfully? Brands should exercise a high degree of empathy and sensitivity in dealing with social matters – which will help to avoid and social outcry that may result in ill reputation and consider how can my brand address the social tension sensibly? People are looking for ‘meaning’ over ‘functional delivery’ when engaging with brands. Brands with purpose are favoured and endorsed particularly when they can integrate the social cause to the value system of the brand.