What's a Net-Positive Direct-to-Consumer Brand?

To talk about Net-Positive DTC, we have to talk about Net-Negative DTC.

The 1960’s was considered the Golden Age of Advertising. Masterful creatives that compelled consumers and culture.

The problem? What they pushed to the world was whack.

  • Ads that started babies and toddlers an early and indoctrinated dose of Coca Cola.
  • Ads of doctors smoking Camel Cigarettes.
  • Ads of Margarine that exponentially escalated worse health outcomes to the world.
  • Ads that shifted the idea of breakfast: sugar for breakfast.

The advertisements themselves was a work of beauty. But ethically, messed up.

80 years later I’m flabbergasted that when I was 9 years old reading the front and back of a cereal box, that I thought in my heart of hearts that I was being healthy. 

  • Heart healthy!
  • Vitamins & Minerals!
  • Colorful designs and cool characters.
  • Little mini games and activities to entertain me. 

All while being healthy. I was proud of that.

Yet, it was all a lie.

So what’s a net-positive Direct-to-Consumer brand? It’s the opposite of a net-negative Direct-to-Consumer brand.

⛔️ Net-Negative DTC: Brands that promote products and lifestyles that lead to worse outcomes for the health of one’s body, mind and spirit. 

✅ Net-Positive DTC: Brands that promote products and lifestyles that lead to extraordinary outcomes for the health of one’s body, mind and spirit. 

One trends towards hell on earth, the other heaven on earth.

In this case, intention doesn't matter. Some brands are unknowingly promoting products and indirectly a lifestyle that is producing worst outcomes for people whether it's one's body, mind or spirit.

For example take Oatly. They sell an alternative to milk. Vegan, plant-based milk alternative made from gluten-free oats. Sounds great from their intentions.

The concern is there's a key ingredient that's so small on the ingredients label yet sinister.

That ingredient is canola oil (Also called rapeseed oil in Scandinavia).

In a nut shell the dose of vegetable oils (also known as seed oils) have had worse-outcomes for health.

Take this graphic below we mocked up for Zero Acre Farms, a cooking and dressing oil alternative.

For just 5 tablespoons of corn oil, the average consumption in America, is the equivalent of eating 98 ears of corn.

Intuitively, eating 98 ears of corn does not seem like a good idea. Eating an ear of corn even several ear of corns, it seems inconsequential.

But 98 daily becomes the same.

With all seed oils, the dosage is discreet but looking behind the curtain it can be counter-intuively harmful.

Here's a spec graphic we designed for Zero Acre.

And it's not just Oatly. Most processed packaged foods include these seed oils today.

Plant-Based "Meats" like Beyond Burger and Impossible contain Canola Oil and Sunflower Oil

Jeff Nobbs who founded Zero Acre Farms is on a mission to replace seed oils with an oil alternative made from fermentation. That to us is a net-positive DTC Brand. Consumer sales while also tackling a bigger mission of replacing seed oils in processed foods, restaurants and grocery stores around the world with healthier alternatives.

See Jeff's Article Series on how vegetable oil impacts our health and our planet.

Now just how much net-positive impact can a DTC brand have?

We’re just selling apparel, food, beauty, tech aren’t we?

If that were the case…

  • Nike only sells shoes.
  • Apple only sells mobile phones and computers.
  • Tesla only sells electric cars.

Yet we all know it’s not the product that makes brand, it’s the mission, the values, the magic of storytelling that compels people to move.

Remember, we’re not just selling products, we’re promoting beliefs through storytelling.

And hopefully the goal is that those beliefs serve us more than they harm us.

We’re aiming to relaunching a Golden Age of Advertising. 

A Renaissance Replayed.

This time instead of pushing stuff to the detriment of people, it’ll be for the better.

Net-Positive DTC.


Kenny Hoang

Founder and CEO of Emblem. When he’s not obsessing about Ecommerce, growth and marketing, he’s into: Longevity, Jiu-Jitsu, MMA, books on classics, business & marketing, and biographical stories. His vice is chocolate desserts and snacks. He's a Los Angeles, California native and currently lives in San Diego, California.  Kenny gives his thoughts a place to live at at kennyhoang.com. Connect with Kenny on Twitter.