Brands use the Grammys to promote social action

As highlighted in 2016’s Impact, youth have a bleak outlook about the direction of the world, but their characteristic optimism is driving them to reconcile such negativity through new approaches to societal betterment. They are increasingly holding brands accountable in promoting social change, expecting them to not only to give back monetarily but also to modernize their practices and campaigns to reflect a greater sense of consciousness, as these Grammys ads demonstrated.


The adidas Originals’ film, “Original is never finished,” made an impact during the Grammys with its striking dystopian visuals that advocate for creative—and perhaps political—revolution. The film features a remix of Frank Sinatra’s iconic song, "My Way" styled by visionaries from the worlds of music, skate, sports, fashions, and art. With a multi-generational cast that includes Snoop Dogg, Dev Hynes, Stormzy, Mabel, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Brandon Ingram, Petra Collins, Gonz and Lucas Puig, the company hopes to enlist a new generation of creators to take future into their own hands.


Nike wants to use the power of sports to inspire people to take action in their communities, with the brand leading by example with its recently announced partnerships with organizations dedicated to advancing equality. Its aptly named film, “Equality,” made its TV debut during the Grammys and featured LeBron James, Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, Megan Rapinoe, Dalilah Muhammad, Gabby Douglas, and Victor Cruz amplifying their voices in an effort to bring the positive values that sports can represent into wider focus. It also featured actor Michael B. Jordan, who provided voiceover, and a new performance by Alicia Keys singing Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.”


Starbucks used the Grammys to thank its customers for fueling its charitable efforts in “A Year of Good.” Set to an instrumental version of Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me,” the spot highlights how last year, sales from coffee and tea helped the brand to provide full tuition to 6,535 college students, find work for more than 8,000 U.S. veterans and military spouses, support over 301,506 ethically sourced farms, donate 22 million trees, and start a pay-it-forward streak. In doing so, the brand hopes to show people the powerful effects of their wallet activism.