Brands and organizations want to move forward. They want to grow. And brands that do things a little bit better every day – brands that matter – are much better at doing that than others.
But by making decisions that are difficult to explain, it sometimes seems as though some brands are deliberately making life difficult for themselves. Let’s take Bayern Munich, the soccer club, as an example. The soccer industry is driven by commercial interests. For many years now, traditions and principles have gone out the window as soon as someone comes along with a big sack of money and there is the slightest whiff of financial growth in the air. As long as the team does well, as Bayern has done, and it makes a lot of money, than everything is fine… right?
Bayern Munich has been one of the world’s most successful soccer clubs over the last few years; the team has been crowned German champions on many occasions, and it has won the Champions League, the European Supercup, and the Club World Cup. And, according to Forbes, it is the third most valuable soccer club (worth $4.22 billion) in the world. Things are going well, you might say. And yet, the club’s supporters demanded the chairman’s resignation. Why? All because of a lucrative sponsorship contract.
During the shareholders meeting last week, supporters spoke up and demanded that Bayern not renew its €17-million-a-year sponsorship contract with Qatar Airways. “Qatar Airways is 100% owned by the Qatari State. The issues there are well known: the violations of the rights of migrant workers, women, children, and homosexuals, the lack of freedom of opinion and of the press, the financing of terrorists groups, and the high level of corruption in the world of sport. We demand that Bayern does not extend its sponsorship deal with Qatar Airways because it is inconsistent with the club’s values,” said the supporters.
The Bayern board resisted – without presenting any good arguments in favor of the sponsorship deal. The board’s response was met with booing and chanting and calls for its members to resign. Following loud protests, the shareholders’ meeting was even brought to a premature end. It is really quite revealing that, in a commercial world like this, the fans of this successful club are standing up for human rights and trying to force their board to do the right thing (or at least to offer a good explanation).Perhaps even at the expense of their own success.
Brands can do better
The raison d’être of brands and organizations is shaped by the people for whom they make their products and provide their services. And those people want brands and organizations to do the right thing – in any way they can. Whichever way you look at it, all brands have the opportunity to do better. Brands that fail to do so will have a very difficult future ahead of them. They will become vulnerable.
Brands that are intrinsically motivated to do good and make better choices for people and society not only have a stronger foundation, but they also have a much better story to tell. A story that is much more enriching, influential, and relevant than the next video about how fantastic you are or how great your product is.
Then it also becomes much easier, and more fun, to achieve success with content marketing.