DO THE RIGHT THING

Campaign Middle East - - NEWS -

f the great mar­ket­ing of the past has been wo­ven out of the beau­ti­ful art of sto­ry­telling, its fu­ture may in­volve fac­ing up to a se­ries of un­com­fort­able truths. For in an age where the di­vi­sions be­tween pub­lic and pri­vate have been ir­re­vo­ca­bly bro­ken by so­cial me­dia, con­sumers are plac­ing brands un­der un­prece­dented scru­tiny. Gen­er­a­tion Z, the co­hort that trend fore­cast­ers have iden­ti­fied as one of the most ac­tivist in his­tory, is in­creas­ingly de­mand­ing that brands act as global cit­i­zens in their own right and move be­yond the empty rhetoric of ‘mar­ket­ing for good’.

Lu­cie Greene, world­wide di­rec­tor of the in­no­va­tion group at J Wal­ter Thomp­son, says the in­dus­try has reached a tip­ping point in how it ap­proaches sus­tain­abil­ity and so­cial good. She says: “The base-rate ex­pec­ta­tions of how brands should be­have have risen across the board and brands are ex­pected to live their val­ues and be eth­i­cally minded.” It is no longer enough for brands to sim­ply “be less bad”, they need to ac­tively “do more good”. How­ever, Greene says the ad in­dus­try re­mains be­hind this curve, de­spite the fact Gen­er­a­tion Z is com­ing to the fore and is pre­pared to in­vest more time and ef­fort on en­sur­ing brands de­liver on their prom­ises.

There is no ques­tion that brands and agen­cies are fo­cus­ing more on defin­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing their “pur­pose”. How­ever, Giles Gib­bons, founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Good Busi­ness, says a lot of hot air is gener- ated when talk­ing about ‘pur­pose’ but, in prac­tice, it is very dif­fi­cult to achieve mean­ing­ful change. The re­al­ity is that a brand’s sus­tain­abil­ity drive is not al­ways in­ter­est­ing to the con­sumer. “You can’t just look at it as mar­ket­ing for good; you need to look at what the con­sumer wants and not ev­ery sus­tain­abil­ity ini­tia­tive is go­ing to be some­thing that sells a prod­uct to a con­sumer,” he says. Point­ing to Unilever com­press­ing the size of its de­odor­ants to re­duce their en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, Gib­bons be­lieves some sus­tain­abil­ity ini­tia­tives sim­ply are not in­ter­est­ing to con­sumers. This does not mean they are not worth­while and im­por­tant, but brands must be­ware of hec­tor­ing con­sumers on how they should be­have. To date, many “mar­ket­ing for good” cam­paigns fail to an­swer two fun­da­men­tal ques­tions: “How does this in­volve the con­sumer?” and the peren­nial mar­ket­ing favourite: “What’s in it for me?” Sid McGrath, chief strat­egy of­fi­cer at Kar­marama, warns that there can be an im­plicit “ar­ro­gance” in pur­pose and mar­keters should “re­write it to make it gen­uinely shared”. He ex­plains that while pur­pose has re­mained a key fo­cus for many brands, the lens through which it is viewed and ac­ti­vated is be­gin­ning to shift. “What we started out do­ing was talk­ing about pur­pose in iso­la­tion, but now we are fo­cused on a shared pur­pose,” he says.

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