How Everyone Profits From a Charitably Minded Ad Campaign

The social good halo is becoming a powerful tool for brands.

How Everyone Profits From a Charitably Minded Ad Campaign
[Illustration: Vanzyst/iStock]

In October, the website design and services platform Squarespace unveiled a new ad campaign about its mission.


Technically, the company provides business owners with custom templates and a specialized toolkit of web-services. More simply, its real goal is to help other businesses highlight what they do best.

So Squarespace Chief Creative Officer David Lee joined forces with creative agency JohnXHannes, founded by Hannes Ciatti and John McKelvey, to use a tactic that the group is known for wielding wisely: the social-good halo.

The strategy represents a real trend in the ad world, in which both product and endorser seek to benefit from their association with the larger positive mission or message.

In this case, Squarespace and JohnXHannes created three 60-second spots recounting the tales of top entrepreneurs who are already using the service. The lineup: Sophia Amoruso, who started the online fashion empire Nasty Girl; Roy Choi and Michelin-star chef Daniel Patterson, who run LA fast-food restaurant LocoL, and Michael Faye, who heads the raw food drink company Kombucha Dog.

Squarespace has released templates inspired by each of those leaders. But rather than highlight the features of each design page, they’ve chosen to focus on something seemingly more powerful—the social good that each person has been able to accomplish as a result of launching a business that they themselves could control.

In this first video, Amoruso talks about how she once struggled to get ahead but now runs a foundation to help other female entrepreneurs.


In a second video, Choi shares his desire to provide healthy, tasty meals affordably in a part of LA that might otherwise not have options.

In this third one, below, Faye describes how his company is built around seeing more dogs get adopted, right down the canines featured on each bottle’s label.

The theme to the Squarespace campaign is “Make It Professional. Make It Beautiful”—an intentional double entendre that McKelvey says echoes the importance of making a ”positive impact on the world.”

“This is coming out of the cultural context of what is important now,” he adds. “These people aren’t just out to make money. They want to make something meaningful.” That holds true for his company and many of the groups and brand endorsers he’s been working with.

JohnXHannes pulled off a similar feat with Under Armour’s “Will What I Want Campaign” which promotes their line of female athlete apparel through a message of empowerment from famous women who are battling their own stereotypes. That campaign featured Misty Copeland, who became the first lead female African American dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, and perhaps more surprisingly supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who wants to be known as more than just a pretty face. (Her inclusion was expected to create a backlash by design.)

“People now just want more balance to their business life. It’s not just about only making a good product or making money,” McKelvey adds. At a time in which over 90% of consumers view social and environmental responsibility as a key part of a brand’s appeal, the same might be said about the ad world.

About the author

Ben Paynter is a senior writer at Fast Company covering social impact, the future of philanthropy, and innovative food companies. His work has appeared in Wired, Bloomberg Businessweek, and the New York Times, among other places.