3 Creative Social Good Campaigns we Loved in 2016

Consumers–particularly those who skew younger (think: Millennials and Gen Z)–now want more out of brands and companies they patronize: they want brands who take a stand on social issues, something that can run counter to the classic marketing mindset of sticking to the sidelines on sticky issues. But the shift in expectation is real. At Summit this October, we heard from some of the most engaged minds in social and what they said should resonate with all marketers as we look toward social good in the coming year: “If your message isn’t honest; if it doesn’t represent who you are and what your brand values, it simply won’t resonate.”

If your message isn't honest, it simply won't resonate.


The concept of taking a definitive position on social issues is new for brands, and many of us are still getting the hang of how to hit the right notes when speaking out about a cause (and finding something we can stand behind even if the going gets tough–something some brands have sometimes struggled to do). At Spredfast, we’ve been exploring how brands can speak up effectively and how brands can become community-minded all year. As we come to the close of 2016, we thought we’d take a moment to revel in our favorite 2016 social good campaigns that also brought in big engagement numbers, because what’s better than boosting our communities and boosting our bottom line? Win-win(-win), we say.


From January to March, Disney teamed up with the Make-A-Wish foundation to celebrate the 100,000 wish fulfilled at Disney with a fundraiser that turned into marketing gold. Disney asked their social media audiences on Instagram and Twitter to share creative images of themselves and their families wearing mouse ears (Mickey Mouse or otherwise) and tag them with #ShareYourEars. For each post, Disney pledged to donate $5 to the Make-A-Wish and they found such campaign success that they ended up doubling their original funding pledge from $1M to $2M.

To boost engagement even further, Disney shared entries on their website and the campaign ended up trending on Facebook.

Black Lives Matter

In October, everybody’s favorite ice cream maker, Ben & Jerry’s, decided to officially stand with Black Lives Matter on social after being involved with the movement on the ground. Their campaign didn’t include any paid media, but they blogged and tweeted the company’s official stance:

The response was overwhelmingly positive and far exceeded their regular-content engagement numbers. Negative responses to their campaign served to reinforce the need for powerful brands to speak out about the Black Lives Matter movement, said activism manager Chris Miller, Ben & Jerry’s.


In November, PepsiCo and 21st Century Fox teamed up for some movie promotion with a heart and The Search for Hidden Figures social campaign was born. In honor of the movie Hidden Figures, the contest sought “emerging female visionaries in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM),” and pledged to award $200,000 in scholarships to 20 winners.


The movie Hidden Figures tells the story of three Black women mathematicians working together at NASA during the Space Race in the 1960s. Their calculations, writes Essence, “ultimately helped engineer John Glenn make history as the first American astronaut to make a complete orbit of the earth.” Said Jeff Boron, PepsiCo’s senior director of digital, “We’re committed to promoting STEM education both inside and outside of the company at PepsiCo—especially among women and girls who may be considering careers in STEM-related fields. With the special story associated with the upcoming film, it’s our hope that this contest will empower those who are making strides in STEM, while also inspiring the next generation of female visionaries.”

The contest also included a national TV and digital media campaign featuring the film’s lead actress, Taraji P. Henson, STEM mobile and web games, challenges, and quizzes.
Winners will be announced January 12, 2017, just in time for the film’s early January nationwide release.

At Spredfast, our research shows social audiences want brands who care–and who shout their concern from the rooftops. We hope to see more community-minded campaigns in the coming year.

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Julia Eddington is a freelance tech and personal finance writer and editor living in New York City.