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Grassroots movements changing our minds and our marketing

Women's March

The 2017 Women's March was a worldwide protest to highlight international legislation regarding women’s rights and other global issues, from immigration to climate change. On 21st January, 2.9 million people around the world followed in the footsteps of major women’s liberation and Civil Rights demonstrations, a reminder of the legacy we owe to leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and the people who used non-violence to change the world.

On 8th November 2016, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. The same day, a Hawaiian grandmother and a Brooklyn fashion designer, unknown to each other, each made a Facebook page suggesting a women’s protest during inauguration weekend. By the following morning more than 10,000 people had RSVP’d, shared, or confirmed support for the idea. The women combined their events and more women and women-led organisations joined the cause.  

The march has inspired a wave of action around the world. Vivienne Mayer, a spokeswoman for the Women’s March Global, told The Guardian “a network of local grassroots teams have formed to enforce the child marriage ban in Malawi, to combat female genital mutilation in Ghana and fight for women to walk the streets safely in India.” And this is only the beginning.

Grassroots movements use tactics that build power from local and community actions. Their power is born from the will of the people. There's no filter, and no ulterior motive: just a natural, independent effort to force change.

Many politicians and businesses have tried to mirror these tactics for personal gain, even if it’s fabricated. When McDonald’s launched the Quarter Pounder in Japan, they were exposed as paying 1,000 people to get in line and create a buzz. That’s not to say brands can’t successfully employ these strategies, but they will only succeed if the local community power comes from a natural and genuine place. In the words of Ghandi, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

Adidas Glitch

GLITCH is both a brand new football boot concept and a brand new route to market for adidas. It’s development, design and launch was a closely guarded secret, with all the buzz and hype of a big budget boot release, minus the spend. A core group of influencers were brought on board in the summer, helping to envision, critique and test the boot in advance.

Football is changing – the new breed of player is found in small squads and urban academies. Their idols aren’t Premiership players, but freestylers: players that get as much respect for their style of play as their ability to win. This new breed of player became the voice of the brand, helping to launch the product to their peers, friends and fans.

Adidas intentionally started small, with a core group of influencers and urban footballers in London, chosen as the gatekeepers of GLITCH. This allowed the community to grow gradually and organically. Boots could be brought on the move and delivered within 4 hours, anywhere in London. There was 24 hour chat support from the same influencers who were there from the start, with rewards for the most active users.

The boots were (and still are) only available for purchase through a dedicated mobile app. This platform opens to purchase through special one-use referral codes. You literally cannot get your hands on these boots unless you are invited by another GLITCH player, adding exclusivity and creating a community around the product – a community fed and managed by influencers, not marketers.

Agency: Iris, London

Glitch downloads
redemption rate on codes being activated
Adidas Glitch - iris Worldwide
Adidas Glitch - iris Worldwide

HISTORY's #ReadingForRoots

HISTORY’s reimagining of the landmark mini-series ROOTS told the powerful story of an enslaved African family’s struggle to preserve their name and identity. Alongside making ROOTS a must-watched, must-discussed television event, the launch campaign had the potential to help reconnect modern African American families with their lost ancestors. To inspire a collective conversation, HISTORY provided an invitation to co-create the story of ROOTS with their audience. Reading for ROOTS called upon the public to help transcribe names and dates from thousands of aging, hard to decipher Civil-War era documents. Each name and date collected was then digitally archived in a searchable database thereby saving the histories of the enslaved people from disappearing forever. Reading for Roots tapped into distinct, targeted segments to unite fans behind a worthy cause. Through social targeting and custom messaging, they were able to draw their audiences in to accomplish their goals quickly and effectively.

Agency: 360i, New York

#ReadingForRoots - 360i New York

Converse Young & Laced

Amplify took Converse's global mission to 'unleash the creative spirit’ and created a grassroots creative collective called Young and Laced. The programme gave bursaries to some of the most exciting, young, local talent to ensure their creative dreams and visions became a reality. To date, they have facilitated everything from documentaries on New York’s counter-culture to EP and vinyl releases, setting up publishing houses and making mockumenteries commissioned by world famous DJs and bands. Alongside financial investment, they were given industry mentorship to help with everything from crafting creative concepts, to media and PR to allow their work to be seen by the largest possible audience. As a result, members have been able to turn their hobbies into careers – traveling the world shooting high profile fashion campaigns, filming A-List pop stars or working with the world’s most influential creatives. Converse now have a collective of credible and authentic brand fans who are unleashing creativity on a global level and spreading the Converse message loud and clear.

Agency: Young & Laced, Amplify

Converse Young & Laced - Amplify, London

Barclays empowers its employees

By 2012, Barclays was the least trusted brand in the least trusted sector. It was clear that a new direction and business strategy would be necessary to reinstate confidence in Barclays and to help restore its business performance. The turnaround plan centred on the key conclusion that only a business driven by a strong purpose and values can deliver solid, sustainable returns. Barclays’ new purpose, ‘Helping people achieve their ambitions – in the right way’, was rooted in a genuine brand truth: Barclays has a proud 325 year history of helping customers achieve their ambitions in ways that are of broader benefit to both the economy and society. With such a clear lead from above, initiatives directly inspired by the new purpose began to spring up from the grassroots, many personally championed by individual colleagues. Once demoralised and disempowered, Barclays’ people began to feel inspired to instigate and lead projects they were passionate about personally as well as professionally. Our purpose-driven campaigns shone a light on three key initiatives: Digital Eagles, LifeSkills and Code Playground.

Agency: BBH London, London

Barclays Digital Eagles - BMB

About the author

Kara Melchers, Managing Editor, BITE

Kara has editorial control over BITE, Creativebrief’s daily insight into global marketing trends and the cultural movements driving them. She runs BITE INSPIRE sessions in the UK and US, for brands including Virgin Atlantic, A.G. BARR, British Gas and Pepsico. She also presents at our BITE LIVE events series and industry festivals in London and New York. Get in touch if you’re working on an interesting project