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The Importance of Ethics when Collaborating with Brands

A recent Freestak report found that when collaborating with brands, 98% of content creators would choose to align with ethically-minded brands and products.
“Ultimately, you are using your name to represent or work with the brand; therefore, I think the onus will be on yourself to do your due diligence to work out how ethical they are. For instance, does it comply with your beliefs?” @ultralan said. From positive environmental change and core values, to the questionable approach of a brand’s marketing communication, the Freestak community shared their opinions on ethics throughout brand collaborations. Let’s take a look at what they thought.

Authentic alignment with brand values, key focus: the environment

Of the content creators surveyed 65% said they focus highly on the ethical background and approach of brands when developing relationships. “I want to stay authentic, and topics like environment protection or animal welfare are topics I care about. I try to live a sustaining way of life, and so I like brands who care. We only have one world to live on,” @_sicht_weise said. Many agreed that working with ethically-minded brands can translate into major steps towards helping to protect the planet. They believe contributing to a better world by supporting forward-thinking brands can create a positive impact for future generations. “There is no planet B and we all should think about the environment, about human rights, about how we treat others,” @alrunninghappy said. All in all, many mentioned how collaborations should ultimately align with your personal beliefs and core values, particularly in relation to the environment. “Our planet’s resources are limited. We talk in bikepacking about leaving no trace but if our kit and equipment aren’t sustainable then we are being irresponsible and not living by our own motto,” @elmcthunderthighs said.

Brands and ethics: a work in progress

Given the choice, 33% of our community would prefer to work with ethically-minded brands, though recognize the difficulty to advocate that 100% of the time. “If there are ethical/environmental options available, then I am always keen to explore them and try them out but I appreciate that this isn’t always possible, and that a lot of brands are still working on improving this aspect of their products but might not be all the way there just yet – it’s a work in progress!” @jo.runs.n.stuff said. Market demand is changing, and the minds of the communities are growing too, according to @coderunnerguy. People have their say on what’s right and what’s wrong, and he believes the choice is theirs to pick what is not just good for themselves but for the environment too. Though it may not always be a realistic option to consistently focus on ethical products, recognizing brands that are making the effort to positively improve society is a step many are taking. “Making it clear that ethics are important and highlighting those that are going the extra mile to make a difference is the most constructive approach. Brands are changing, so let’s work with them to move the agenda forward – rather than boycott them and not influence their direction,” @jamesdpoole said.

Brand marketing communication and ethical accountability

On the contrary, only 2% surveyed found it unimportant to consider a brand’s ethical mindset when developing collaborations. They believe there is a lack of accountability when it comes to many brand’s marketing communication. “Companies that are following the trend of unethical companies, that use unethical marketing communication to talk about them being ethical does not make them ethical,” Anonymous said. It was mentioned how brands are “blinding people with science” by creating product names and copy that sound more advanced than it all really is. Discussing the tech of a product is justified, but they do not agree with communicating it in a way that deceives an audience.

What do you think?

Though the vast majority of our content creators believe ethics is important when working with brands, there is still the question of deception throughout brand’s marketing communication. We’d love to hear what you think. Are you with the majority and believe ethically-minded brands are helping to protect our environment or do you think it’s a marketing hoax?
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