The Day the Moon Came to Earth ad for Sky Zero

The future of brand activism

Brand activism has long been confused with purpose or pro-bono work. It’s time to reconsider its meaning and the role ad agencies can play – here’s how

Brands and agencies shouldn’t be stepping into the world of activism because it is the fashionable thing to do. We know we are joined at the hip with clients to sell things, but as masters of multi-tasking, we can have purpose too.

Activism doesn’t start and end with brands, ad agencies or marketing budgets. It’s not about ­simply wanting to build brand fame. It originates with ­people, dedicated people who are passionate about the community or environments in which they live and work. You may be a practitioner of advertising, but you can care about stuff too.

As an industry, we need to truly innovate in this area in order to empower activists, campaigners and under-represented communities to achieve positive change and grow their movements. The pandemic put a huge spotlight on the inequalities that exist in our society and the damage we are doing to our planet. We cannot ignore that.

The Day the Moon Came to Earth ad for Sky Zero
Top and above: Stills from The Day the Moon Came to Earth. All work featured by Engine Creative, London

Advertising, media and the creative industries hold enormous power and influence and can use their skills, access and knowledge to make a difference within their own organisations and ­outside of them too. There is no excuse for ­empty slogans or trite performative statements from brands that pay lip service to good causes without the substance to back them up.