If you flip through an old advertising textbook, you’re bound to find one of the most iconic pieces of advice within the industry, the age-old axiom that ‘sex sells’. Flash consumers some naughty nudity or muscular men and they’ll be hooked right? Well no, not in this day and age. In 2017 sex sells is out and activism, it seems, is in.

So why is activism in?

The answer: millennials. The millennial generation are at the forefront of social activism. We have been brought-up in a digital world where it is only too easy to be a keyboard warrior and hide behind the anonymity of the Internet. We no longer have to physically march or come face-to-face with our opposition in order to be social activist. Instead, we can simply use our quick thumbs to tweet our opinions, vehemently standing up for those who share our worldviews and just as easily degrading those who challenge them.

Within the top 10 trending twitter topics of 2016 were Donald Trump, Black Lives Matter and the Brexit. You don’t see ‘sexually provoking nudity’ trending do you? Why, because we live in an era where sex has been normalised. Hence, why we just don’t care as much about your sexual advertising anymore (Sorry, not sorry!). Want to be noticed? Take a stance!

For instance, I had never heard of American transportation company LYFT before they supported New York Taxi workers who were on strike against Trump’s Executive Order. The business committed to donating 1 million dollars to support the American Civil Liberties Union who stands up for the rights and liberties of all Americans. LYFT took a stance and in return received a huge amount of publicity, trended on twitter and have gained international brand awareness.

On the other end of the stick, when the New York Taxi Workers went on strike, Uber continued their services, infuriating protesters and the community. Even though Uber did not openly support Trump, they didn’t protest or take a stance and in return the hashtag #deleteuber trended internationally. Stats show that a whopping 200,000+ people deleted the Uber app as a consequence of the campaign.

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As Leela Cosgrove, Founder of the 8percent states:
“It’s meaning that sells. It’s the things you stand for – and against – as an entrepreneur, a human being and business, that sells.”

Nike has joined the trend of selling meaning over a product with the launch of their customised sports hijab for Muslim athletes, the Nike Pro Hijab. Nike has not only produced a product but have given the autonomy and ability for Muslim women to express their faith and simultaneously take part in athletics. In a time of increasing islamophobia and penetrating political division, Nike has reached out to the Middle Eastern community and has in return received a wave of support. Not only has Nike taken a stance but they’ve also tapped into a market that is valued to be worth 5 trillion by 2020. Blatantly, Nike’s “good business” has just been good business.

“I don’t expect Nike to become a saviour for Muslim women, who can certainly defend themselves, but solidarity and support is so important,” wrote Ahmed.


It’s 2017 and ‘sex sells’ is out. Consumers are now eagerly welcoming the rising wave of conscious capitalism. If you really want to be noticed in this day an age take a stance. Smart businesses are listening. They are no longer just selling products but are joining consumers on issues that are important to them. They’re aligning their organisations purpose with consumer values and in return are receiving brand loyalty and online support like it’s never been seen before.

So get on board. Less sexism, more activism.