April 15th, tax day, is here. It happens at the exact same time each and every year but for many it always seems to come as a surprise. Today, however, for millions of Americans who struggle to make ends meet today marks a different kind of day. It is a day of raising awareness for a living wage and brands, if they know what’s good for them, should take note.

Let’s forget for a moment that today’s minimum wage does little more to raise people out of poverty than EBT or housing subsidies do. The reality is that, for most of the people who are making only minimum wage, they are still relying on federal and state assistance programs. Let’s do the right thing and help people out of poverty rather than keep them in it.

How Fight For 15 becomes a brand opportunity

But this blog is not about a social commentary. This is a business and branding blog. Fight for 15 represents a unique opportunity for brands with the fortitude to make a stand and think long term.

Let's pay fast food workers what they deserve.

Let’s pay fast food workers what they deserve.

Imagine for a moment what would happen if McDonald’s announced that it was raising its minimum pay to $15 per hour. It would have lines out the door of people wanting to come work for the fast food chain and the PR spin wouldn’t be bad either. They could even wrap it up in their “new” re’launch of ‘Lovin It.’’ McDonald’s could say:

“Because McDonald’s wants to put more Lovin’ into everything we do, we are taking the lead in raising the minimum we pay to our workers to $15 per hour because it’s the right thing to do.”

Forget revamping the menu or introducing artisan chicken, the goodwill alone would be offset by a reduction in advertising expense, not to mention the increased productivity by workers.

Eventually, other brands would have to follow suit – a good thing for everyone. But the one who takes the lead will have an advantage, whether it is McDonalds or another company.

I really don’t think it is a question of if it will happen but when will it happen. A brand can use this as a sound strategic business decision by taking a cause and turning it into sound business. This kind of thing is what they write business cases about and there is always a winner and many losers. Which side of the Fight For 15 do you want your company to be on?

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