In August 2019, prAna launched a contest calling on fans to quit their day job and pursue their dreams for a chance to win $100,000. Rooted in prAna’s “clothing for positive change” ethos—one the brand has maintained through a long commitment to sustainability— the Dream Job Promotion exceeded the brand’s expectations, generating over 2,000 entry videos, 50 million PR impressions and over 200,000 visits to prAna’s site.

During a panel on “How Marketing Can Inspire Positive Change” at this week’s ninth annual 3% Conference, prAna vice president of marketing Jeff Haack, junior partner and head of brand at Camp + King Emily Dillow and prAna contest winner Queena Bergen discuss how purpose-driven marketing can create a positive domino effect, how prAna prevented unconscious bias in its winner selection process and how brands can support racial equality.

When Bergen came across prAna’s Day Job to Dream Job challenge on Instagram, she was a software engineer who had just accepted a new job. As her emotive submission video showed, however, she had bigger plans: to travel the world and inspire people through her poetry. In addition to awarding Bergen $100,000, prAna is helping her kick off a national poetry tour this year.

“Instead of judging people based on whether they met our expectations or whether they looked and sounded like our target customers, we did our best to really judge them on their originality and their uniqueness, and how much passion and commitment they demonstrated,” Haack said.

One of prAna’s pillars is a notion of adventure for all, encompassing all genders, all ethnicities and all sizes and shapes. Inviting everybody into the brand who has an interest in its mission, then, was equally important, Haack added.

Bergen used the cash prize to open her own video production company and pay the positivity forward. At the onset of the pandemic in mid-March, Bergen set out to treat the graduating seniors of her former alma mater, New Jersey’s Franklin High School, who were unable to graduate in-person, to a virtual keynote speech from the school’s principal and a spoken word piece by Bergen, who’s been reciting poetry since she was 9 years old. Bergen and her team shot a virtual reality (VR) video of the entire school and gifted 600 students VR headsets to partake in #FHS360, a 360° fully immersive graduation experience. 

Corporate America’s moment of racial reckoning has proliferated discussions on how brands can eliminate bias in their workforce and content.

When asked how brands can genuinely support diversity, Bergen said that to prevent the Black Lives Matter protests from fading into just another trend or hashtag, brands must aim for consistency in their racial equality messaging and initiatives, as well as seek out the opinions of racial and ethnic minority groups within organizations.

Haack agreed, adding that before externalizing support for the movement, brands should ensure they’re being thoughtful with their internal communities, then devise a plan the brand can get behind to create a concentrated, long-term diversity mission.