Brands aligning themselves with social causes and movements should be a “no brainer” as long as they don’t embrace controversy just for the sake of controversy. “We heard that brands need to stand for something but that doesn’t necessarily mean always that they have to be controversial,” is the way Scott Donaton sums up one theme of the Digital Content NewFronts 2018.

The Global Chief Content Officer at Digitas, the agency that co-founded the NewFronts about a decade ago, says it’s more about brands having values that people can relate to.

“Sometimes it just means that they have to speak their own truth, they have to have values, because we think that audiences care about those values now and that those things will come into purchase decisions,” Donaton says in this interview with Beet.TV.

Donaton recalls the walkup to this year’s NewFronts and how many people naturally embraced the Digitas theme of The #Boycott NewFront.

“Every time we got on a prep call with somebody to get ready for the event, we didn’t even have to get out of our mouths what we wanted to talk about before they would basically say things to us that completely confirmed that we were on the right path.”

His takeaway is that “there’s clearly this moment in time right now and our aim was to capture it and it felt like we did.”

Aligning with causes and movement requires a smart, strategic approach because brands can be risk turning people off or, worse, sparking calls for a boycott of their products or services.

“We’ve seen some of this happen in the marketplace with brands that have taken a stand on more hot button issues. I think the point is, don’t court controversy for the sake of it.”

The right strategic approach means that brands must be prepared “and be ready for what might happen. Have the answers, have the strategy in place to stick by what you’re saying.”

It’s the job of agencies to help brands understand “what their why is,” Donaton adds. That “why” encompasses the role they play in peoples’ lives and the stories they can tell in a credible fashion.

“Then it’s really just about being true to yourself and speaking that truth. As long as brands don’t try to jump on something for the sake of jumping on it or doing something that’s not authentic, this is actually a no brainer.”

This video is part of Beet.TV’s coverage of the Digital Content NewFronts 2018. The series a co-presentation of Beet.TV and the IAB. Please see additional videos from the series on this page.