What Multinational Companies Can Do to Align Support for Social Issues in Different Markets

We have seen countless articles making a case for companies to take a stand on social issues. A recent study featured by Adweek, for instance, found that the majority of consumers want to see not only brands but also CEOs and executives weigh in on these issues.

When it comes to multinational companies, however, how do they navigate the complex social expectations in different markets, especially those such as Indonesia with hypersensitive audiences?

Take Starbucks for example. Last year, CEO Howard Schultz announced the company’s support for same-sex marriages. While other parts of the world celebrated, a significant portion of Indonesian netizens hit their keyboards, calling on their friends and families to boycott the coffee chain behemoth.

More recently, Unilever’s ice cream brand, Wall’s, faced a similar quandary. A picture of Wall’s Golden Gaytime ice cream, covered in rainbow colored rice crisps went viral online. It unleashed the fury of conservative groups in Indonesia, who had Unilever pegged as a “LGBTQ-supporting company”.

The fact is, the special rainbow version was sold only in Australia and only for a limited time in support of the 2017 Mardi Gras Festival. The combination of the word “gay” in its name and the rainbow color was, however, enough to trigger calls for boycott in the country with growing trend of conservatism.

What Unilever Indonesia did in the face of such potential crisis was to distance itself from the offensive product locally, and assure Indonesians that it respects the country’s “cultural norms and religious values”. In its statement, Unilever also went further and reminded the consumers that the products it sells in the country were all halal.

The statement worked to diffuse the anger of the Indonesian netizens but it did not sit so well with more progressive customers globally. To some of them, it read as though the company turned its back away from its global values.

So, how can these multinational companies align their stance across different markets in a way that doesn’t betray its values?

And, what to do when caring turns into crisis?

To us, there are four key points to consider when a multinational company is thinking of adopting a public stance on critical social issues:


1. Define your core values

Approach the decision not as riding on a trend (“LGBTQ movement is trendy right now; I want my brand to hop onboard.”). Instead, approach it only as part of an exercise to define your corporate character, including your core values and how they relate to your business.

What is it that you truly believe in as a company? It can be equal opportunity for all. It can be diversity. It can be the protection of the earth for generations to come. 


2. Activate with consistency globally, but translate for local context

Once you define your core values, it will be clearer to map out how you need to activate them.

The key is to repeat and demonstrate this belief consistently across the business. When you talk to your employees, when you talk to your consumers, when you talk to other stakeholders. The actual words of what you say, and the ways you say it, may differ from market to market – but the underlying belief should persist.

Activating these values can then include determining what social issues are in line with your belief. You will then need to decide whether you want to take up this issue globally, or one specifically in certain markets and another in the rest.

If you believe in, say, diversity, you may choose to specifically support LGBTQ movement in countries like the United States, but not in countries that criminalize it – as interference in which may have a legal effect on you. Instead, in those countries, you can identify what other critical issues in the diversity corridor that you can support.


3. Be prepared for crisis-like situations

When you take a stand on critical social issues, it usually means you either agree or disagree with someone. A potential crisis arising from attacks by the other side, therefore, is more a matter of “when” than “if”.

To minimize disruption to your business, you will need to be prepared. The earliest and the simplest step is to have a standby statement. Not only for the media, but also for relevant stakeholders including your customers on social media.

This is especially important because we don’t live in a vacuum; a support to an issue in one country, although meant only in that specific local context, can carry over to other countries and be a problem there.

Therefore, when developing such statement, you need to ensure that you go back to your core values, so you do not end up betraying them. Your core values are the glue that tie the issues you may show or not show public support for in different markets.

For example, we tweaked Unilever’s statement to be:

“It is Unilever’s belief globally that we respect diversity and equality of every human. At the same time, we respect Indonesian culture and religious values and norms as we have been here for 84 years. We always ensure that our products, activities and campaigns in Indonesia are suitable for Indonesians from different backgrounds. That’s why we did not sell, promote, or communicate products that may not be in line with Indonesian culture and religious values.”


4. Trust your local operations when a crisis happens

Lastly, when a crisis breaks out in a particular market, listen to your local team. They are the people on the ground who know best what the dynamics and the nuances are like there. Offer them support and provide them with the necessary tools or resources but trust their local insights.


Written by Mira Febri Mellya and Marsha Imaniara 

Maverick Crisis Working Group

Revisi Undang-Undang Kitab Undang-Undang Hukum Pidana

DPR membatalkan pengesahan UU KUHP pada 12 Februari lalu karena desakan yang kuat dari masyarakat. Bahkan isu ini menarik perhatian wartawan asing dan dibahas dalam diskusi panel Jakarta Foreign Correspondent Club.

DPR akan kembali membahas RUU KUHP ini setelah reses selesai pada 4 Maret 2018. RUU KUHP telah diajukan sejak 2012 dan hingga kini belum disahkan karena banyaknya pasal-pasal kontroversial. Rancangan UU KUHP dinilai banyak mengandung berbagai pasal kontroversial seperti:

  • Pasal Penghinaan Presiden, pasal yang sudah dicabut oleh MK pada 2006 lalu kembali masuk pada Rancangan KUHP kali ini
  • Pasal contempt of court yang mengancam kebebasan pers, wartawan dilarang menuliskan berita yang dapat mempengaruhi jalannya persidangan/independensi hakim. Pasal ini juga dapat mengancam konsultan PR yang sedang menjalankan kasus-kasus litigasi
  • Pasal Kesehatan Reproduksi, orang yang mensosialisasikan alat kontrasepsi dapat dipenjara. Ini mengancam petugas sosialisasi bahaya HIV/AIDS.
  • Pasal Zina, pasal ini dapat mengancam korban pemerkosaan dipenjara, karena pelaku bisa saja bilang tindakan atas dasar suka sama suka. Pasal ini juiga dapat digunakan jika ada orang tua yang tidak menerima anaknya berhubungan seksual secara konsensual dengan pasangannya sehingga mereka dapat melaporkan pasangan si anak atau anaknya sendiri
  • Legalisasi judi selama mendapatkan izin

Ditulis oleh Iwan Kurniawan, konsultan Maverick sebagai bagian dari peningkatan pemahaman Maverick atas isu-isu terkini yang terjadi di Indonesia.

Bahaya Laten Keluarga Cendana

Keluarga Cendana terlihat kembali memasuki panggung politik nasional. Putra dan putri mantan Presiden Suharto aktif memimpin partai barunya masing-masing, sementara mantan menantu Presiden Suharto, Prabowo memimpin salah satu partai oposisi pemerintah terkuat.

Komisi Pemilihan Umum telah menetapkan 14 Partai yang lolos verifikasi dan menjadi peserta pemilu 2019 mendatang. Daftarnya sesuai nomor urut partai adalah:

Nomor 1: Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (PKB)

Nomor 2: Partai Gerakan Indonesia Raya (Gerindra)

Nomor 3: Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan (PDIP)

Nomor 4: Partai Golongan Karya (Golkar)

Nomor 5:  Partai Nasional Demokrat (Nasdem)

Nomor 6: Partai Garuda

Nomor 7: Partai Berkarya

Nomor 8: Partai Keadilan Sejahtera

Nomor 9: Partai Persatuan Indonesia (Perindo)

Nomor 10: Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (PPP)

Nomor 11: Partai Solidaritas Indonesia (PSI)

Nomor 12: Partai Amanat Nasional (PAN)

Nomor 13: Partai Hati Nurani Rakyat (Hanura)

Nomor 14: Partai Demokrat

Dari daftar di atas ada empat partai baru yang akan meramaikan panggung politik Indonesia, yaitu:

Partai Garuda (Gerakan Perubahan Indonesia)

Didirikan pada 16 April 2015, dengan Ketua Umum Ahmad Ridha Sabana dan Sekretaris Jenderal Abdullah Mansyuri. Siapa mereka? Di luar politik, Ridha Sabana adalah Presiden Direktur PT Cipta Televisi Pendidikan Indonesia (TPI), versi Mbak Tutut, puteri Presiden Soeharto. Seperti yang kita tahu TPI yang sekarang ini berubah menjadi MNC TV setelah sebelumnya ada sengketa antara Mbak Tutut dan Hary Tanoe. Hary Tanoe memenangkan sengketa di Badan Arbitrase Nasional (BANI) sedangkan Mbak Tutut menang sengketa di MA. Kasus ini masih bergulir hingga saat ini.

Di sisi lain, Abdullah Mansyuri merupakan Ketua Ikatan Pedagang Pasar Indonesia (IKAPPI).

Partai Berkarya

Partai Berkarya merupakan reinkarnasi dari Partai Nasional Republik yang gagal lolos verifikasi KPU untuk mengikuti Pemilu 2014. Partai Berkarya dipimpin oleh Neneng A. Tutty, dan posisi Sekretaris Jenderal dijabat oleh Badaruddin Andi Picunang. Ketua Majelis Tinggi dan Dewan Pembina Partai dipegang oleh Hutomo Mandala Putra atau Tommy Soeharto dan berkantor di bekas gedung perusahaan Pecatu Graha, yang juga miliki Tommy Soeharto.

Neneng A. Tutty merupakan artis film layar lebar pada tahun 1980-an. Kiprahnya di politik ditandai dengan memimpin Laskar Merah Putih, ormas yang juga mencantumkan nama Tommy Soeharto sebagai Ketua Dewan Pembina. Setelah menjadi ketua umum Laskar Merah Putih, Neneng A. Tutty lalu menjadi ketua Partai Nasional Republik, yang kini menjelma menjadi Partai Berkarya.

Sementara Badaruddin Andi Picunang merupakan mantan politisi Golkar dengan posisi terakhir Wasekjen DPP AMPI Golkar (2015).

Partai Solidaritas Indonesia (PSI)

Partai ini diketuai oleh mantan presenter berita Grace Natalie. Partai ini cenderung mengambil target partisipan kalangan anak muda, perempuan dan lintas agama. Tokoh-tokoh partai ini menggunakan media sosial Twitter dan Facebook secara aktif untuk mengajak warga muda dalam berpartisipasi dalam kegiatan politik. Sebagai contoh adalah dengan menciptakan hashtag pada jejaring sosial seperti #Merdeka100Persen saat HUT RI ke 70 dan #KepoinPilkada saat Pilkada serentak pada Desember 2015 yang lalu.

Ada aturan internal di mana pengurus partai dibatasi maksimal 45 tahun,  saat ini pengurus daerah partai rata-rata berumur 20-30 tahun. Selain itu Partai ini tidak mau bertumpu kepada seorang tokoh untuk mengangkat nama partai, seperti partai politik lain kebanyakan. Partai ini juga mengklaim transparansi sumbangan finansial, khususnya memisahkan pengaruh bisnis dari operasional partai.

Nama-nama beken yang ada di PSI adalah:

  • Isyana Bagoes Oka (Mantan Presenter)
  • Tsamara Amany (politikus muda yang melejit namanya karena twitwar dengan Fahri Hamzah terkait pemberantasan korupsi)
  • Giring Ganesha (Vokalis Nidji)
  • Mohamad Guntur Romli (Aktivis NU)
  • Hariyanto Arbi (Atlet Bulutangkis)

Partai Perindo

Ini tidak usah dijelasin lah ya? sudah tahu kan owner Partai ini siapa? Hary Tanoesoedibjo.

Ditulis oleh Iwan Kurniawan, konsultan Maverick sebagai bagian dari peningkatan pemahaman Maverick atas isu-isu terkini yang terjadi di Indonesia.

Why we won’t be in Singapore to accept a PR Award

Flushed with our Gold Standard Award for Issues Management and Crisis Communications in Hong Kong in December last year, we thought we should submit our work for another award. This new one is run by a marketing portal that includes public relations as one of its disciplines, confident that our work will win an award.

When we won the Gold Standard Award we paid for attending the ceremony but the price was reasonable and they didn’t try to charge us extra for a video interview or a certificate.

True enough, we got shortlisted!

And that’s when the disillusionment began. Read More

Anadolu Agency Indonesia, Menjawab Tantangan Media di Era Disrupsi Digital

Kekerasan menghantui anak-anak dan orang-orang tak bersalah di zona-zona perang di seluruh penjuru dunia setiap hari. Kita melihatnya melalui media di Palestina, Suriah, Afganistan, atau Myanmar.

dandy koswara
Dandy Koswaraputra, Kepala Biro Anadolu Agency Indonesia.

Anadolu Agency, sebuah kantor berita Turki yang berdiri sejak 1920, hadir untuk memastikan bahwa semua masyarakat dunia tidak mengalihkan pandangan dari tragedi kemanusiaan ini.  Read More

CIMB Niaga’s Presence in Media: Worth Status as BUKU IV Bank?

In an industry where “the bigger the better” holds true, being named as one of the biggest banks in Indonesia is quite an achievement. It can strengthen customers’ and investors’ trust, leading to a better financial performance.

But will it have an impact on bank’s presence or coverage in the media? Here at Maverick, we want to look deeper into this by using CIMB Niaga as a case study. Read More

Proficiat Tirto

Situs berita Tirto menjadi media pertama di Indonesia yang dinyatakan lolos verifikasi International Fact-Checking Network. Jaringan ini dibentuk oleh Poynter Institute, organisasi jurnalis yang berbasis di St. Petersburg, Florida, Amerika Serikat. Tirto merupakan media ke-42 yang lolos verifikasi.

tirto website
Lolos dari verifikasi berarti Tirto dianggap oleh para verifikator IFCN sebagai media yang serius dalam memberi data yang akurat dan dapat dipertanggungjawabkan. Tirto juga dianggap menunjukkan komitmen untuk terbuka atas koreksi, kritik, dan tanggapan, karena bersedia meralat atau memperbaharui konten jika ada kekeliruan.  Read More

Why Brands Should Start Looking at Online Learning as a Part of Their Communications Strategy

Brands are constantly looking for better ways to communicate and engage with their audience, and the right way to start is to understand what the audience is looking for. Yet, trends have shown that audiences have stopped engaging with brands.
online learning

In the age of social media and content marketing, one is constantly bombarded with so many brands trying to dominate your online attention with various forms of advertisement. It’s not surprising that audiences have learned how to ignore them.  Read More

Media Old Hands Combine Expertise to Launch CNBC Indonesia Portal

Jakarta, 15 January 2018 – Indonesian financiers and executives can now get their daily dose of business updates from a world leader in business news, CNBC, in Bahasa Indonesia, following the soft launch of CNBCIndonesia.com today. 2 years ago, CNBC and Trans entered a partnership and have been trailing the service. They finally decided that they have enough elements in lace now and that’s why they soft-launched the portal.  Read More