What is performance activism and why is it important to avoid it in marketing? - Punch Creative
October 3, 2022

What is performance activism and why is it important to avoid it in marketing?

Performative activism is when a person or brand appears to support a cause to gain attention or support, rather than making a difference for the cause.  

It can be easy for brands to get caught up with showing support for a cause, but are they actually making a difference? Let’s compare some genuine brands and their efforts with the performance activism brands. 

Genuine brands – Love Island X eBay 

Love Island recently chose to partner up with eBay for this year’s series of the show. Usually, the tv show partners up with fast fashion brands such as I Saw it First to dress the islanders. However, this year they listened to their audience and their sustainability concerns. As a result, they decided to take a new direction for their partner. This year instead of having a disposable fashion attitude, they have switched to promoting pre-loved clothing by partnering with eBay. The islanders wore second-hand items from eBay or their own items from home. 

This partnership encourages their impressionable audience to consider buying pre-loved items rather than buying new ones. This is a great collaboration that shows ITV intends to make a difference in this space. 

eBay has also carried on its mission to change the way consumers shop. They recently announced that Love Island finalist Tasha Ghouri is going to be the first-ever preloved ambassador for them.

Performance Activism Brand – H&M 

Sustainability is a hot topic, with many people and brands talking about ways to be more sustainable. This can tie into many aspects of a product or business such as the design, or how they operate day to day. However, how much of this is superficial?

Big fashion brand H&M has been accused of ‘Greenwashing’, by misleading their consumers on their environmental scorecards which are displayed within stores and online. They claim that some clothes in the eco-conscious range are made using less water. This has been proven to be incorrect, and in some cases, they use more water than common materials. The argument is that this range is no more sustainable than the rest of the clothes they sell, which are also not very sustainable either! 

H&M is misleading consumers into believing they are making a difference for the environment when they’re not. Using sustainability as a ploy to attract consumers is wrong if the facts are incorrect. 

As ‘Good on you’ have stated on social media, no fast-fashion brand can be sustainable.

How can this be applied to your next campaign? 

There are many good and bad examples of brands working with causes or charities, but there’s no excuse for misleading consumers. When creating your next campaign think about the buzzwords you’re using. Can these be backed up with support to make a difference, or is it just an attention gain? 

At Punch, we work with many socially conscious clients, such as ForHousing. They provide their audience with tips on how to save money whilst also reducing their impact on the environment. 

For more information, take a look at our portfolio to see our client work.