Kendall Jenner giving a Pepsi to a police officer during a demonstration in Pepsi’s newest commercial ad

At a time when people are being targeted because or their religion, race, or gender identification, it’s not surprising that Pepsi’s latest campaign came off as insensitive and had to be pulled completely.

In today’s world where emotions around social causes and movements are high, real meaningful issues are catching the attention of millions of people. For this reason, many brands are looking for ways to take part and solidify their place in the world as change-makers. While some brands, such as Apple, who has successfully advocated issues like LGBTQ rights, others struggle to reach that sensitive balance between marketing and meaning.

When brands want to portray themselves as caring and supporting a movement, they need to put careful thought into their messaging otherwise they will appear to be using a movement for their own marketing gains.

Having spent many years working on caused-based Influencer Marketing campaigns for brands such as Ford and Visa, let me share with you 3 key insights that I have learned:

1. Opportunity VS Opportunistic

Standing up for a cause and aligning a brand with a movement is very different than using a movement to sell a product or service. When a brand supports movement engaging people to get involved, such as Ford and their dedication to youth empowerment through WE Charities, that’s a brand supporting a movement and benefiting a cause.

When Marketers ask themselves “How can this movement help us promote our brand and sell more product?”, those are brands using movements and important issues to benefit themselves.

2. Ask Your Audience

When aligning a brand’s messaging with a movement, brands need to be extra cautious with their approach. They need to ensure that the tone of their messaging aligns with the tone of the movement and is not offensive.

An effective way to do this is to include people who are part of the movement and your target audience in the initial planning stages and ask them how they feel about the issues and about potential marketing ideas.

I’m confident that if Pepsi would have spoken to members of the groups affected by prejudice and violence, they would have made a very different commercial.

3. Look Outside of the Marketing Department

When engaging in social causes, Marketers need to step outside of their marketing and creative teams to seek out the perspectives of others in their organization. If that approach was taken by Pepsi someone might have said, “Some of this imagery and scenes may not be projecting the right message.” or “Is Kendall Jenner the best fit for this campaign?”.

Remember that in reality the marches and demonstrations that were portrayed as happy pep rallies in Pepsi’s commercial, are deep and emotional outcries from people who are trying to have their voices heard. Issues like these cannot be solved with a can of pop, and although that’s probably not what Pepsi intended to suggest, that’s how it appeared to millions of people around the world.

Brands engaging in cause-based marketing should focus on helping people share their stories in a way that does not trivialize their hardships and does not turn the issue into a commercial.

During my 15+ year career, I’ve seen a lot of marketing initiatives fail, and in today’s age dominated by social media, brands need to be extra vigilant when planning their marketing messaging and delivery methods. The slightest misstep could lead a to a PR nightmare, however, on the flip side, a well thought-out and executed campaign can produce positive viral effects and solidify a brand’s position as a positive change-maker.

I’d love to hear your opinions on what went wrong in Pepsi’s marketing efforts and what you think brands can do to prevent the same thing from happening to them. Please share your thoughts.

Read more: Pepsi Gets The Youth Talking On Social With “Oh Yes Abhi” Campaign