Earlier this month, Stella Artois used the major marketing power of the Super Bowl to urge fans to help provide access to safe drinking water for people in developing nations. Now the beer giant and their longstanding partner, Water.org, are contextualizing the basic need of water and bringing the message to life – beyond the safety of TV screens and couches and into the unsuspecting real world.
Purpose has become a catch-all phrase that means different things to different people. Consumers are demanding that companies do more than make a profit and are basing their decisions on what to buy and where to work based on a company’s responsible business practices and support of social and environmental issues.
This week, agencies and major brands convened in New York City for the Holmes In2 Innovation Summit – exploring the innovation and disruption that continues to redefine influence and engagement. As the day continued, a common thread began to emerge. Although session themes varied from subculture marketing to the speed of change, all conversations inevitably turned to Purpose – and how brands are communicating their authentic roles in society in a rapidly evolving landscape of social issues and calls of injustice. Here are three takeaways for how brands are innovating towards greater Purpose:
Brandon Graham’s strip-sack late in Super Bowl LII wasn’t the only fumble during the game, as advertisers failed to take advantage of a massive audience to bring awareness to key issues and reinforce authentic advocacy. Instead, they played it safe, largely avoiding politics and purpose in favor of humor.
This weekend, the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis will attract over 66,000 people for the Super Bowl – not to mention the 100 million viewers who will be watching across the country. While much of the day’s focus will be on the players and the ads, this year’s organizers are also spotlighting another, greener aspect of the game: engaging fans throughout the evening to create the first ever zero-waste Super Bowl.
The outdoor industry has made huge strides to promote and protect the lands we love and play in. From REI’s evolved #OptOutside campaign, North Face’s climate beneficial beanie and Patagonia’s bold response to the reduction of Bears Ears National Monument, outdoor retailers engaged consumers around a passion for nature and the goal of preserving the places we cherish. Now, one organization is creating a united voice from outdoor retailers showcasing how the industry is leading with Purpose- helping consumers better understand and connect with these brands and their efforts.
It’s no secret that women’s rights and female empowerment have taken center stage in today’s society. Just this past weekend hundreds of thousands of women and men, again took to the streets to across the US to make their voices heard on human rights, gender equality and parity, immigration reform, healthcare, reproductive rights, racial and LGBT equality and countless other issues. This coming at a time when movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp are galvanizing women globally to elicit real change—igniting a spark that’s led to the groundswell for women’s rights we’re experiencing today.
Every year 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste is generated worldwide, but only 12.5 percent of that ends up being repurposed in other products. To narrow this gap and raise awareness on the growing issue among consumers, companies are coming up with creative ways to close the loop. Now, one electronics brand is bringing the e-waste issue to life in a flashy, unexpected way while tackling a problem prevalent in its industry.
Over the past few months, women’s equality has gone viral. A conversation that began with the Women’s March has evolved into movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, taking Twitter by storm and illustrating the magnitude of the issue. Feminism was even named the 2017 word of the year by Merriam-Webster. With the groundswell of support, there is no denying that now is the time to bring women’s equality to the forefront. Recently, one brand chose a moment in time that was already positioned to shine a spotlight on the issue – the Golden Globes and the #WhyIWearBlack campaign – to lend its support to an industry where women’s achievements are still overlooked.
Although it may seem counterintuitive for a company to discourage consumers from buying its products, we have seen this strategy work in brands’ favors in the past – Patagonia’s “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign resulted in an overwhelming positive response from consumers who took extra time to learn about the brand’s mission before making a purchase. Now, one company with a notoriously controversial product is attempting to pivot its business model to be more socially responsible – and marketing directly to consumers during this transition.
Over the years, Paul Polman has been one of the most vocal, determined and passionate advocates for Purpose in business. As he famously said at the launch of Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan: “We cannot choose between [economic] growth and sustainability – we must have both,” and his dedication ...
Last week, in response to President Trump’s decision to scale back Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, outdoor retail brand and sustainability leader Patagonia in turn announced it would be suing the President, a definitively bold move — even for the likes of the brand that brought us “Don’t Buy This Jacket” and “100% for the Planet.”
During 2017, we have seen many brands stepping into divisive conversations sharing different perspectives, spreading inclusivity and attempting to offset unkindness. Acknowledging the divisiveness that our nation faced this year, KIND has launched a storytelling campaign to counter the negativity and unite the country despite opposing opinions we all may have.
As we look back on the past 365 days, there’s no denying we live in tumultuous times. 2017 was rife with political and social divide, unrelenting extreme weather and disasters, unconscionable violence and global strife in many forms. To most, the outlook may be bleak. But rather than a negative, we believe this presents not only a major opportunity, but also a mandate for companies. As the year draws to a close, Cone Communications, evaluated a year’s worth of CSR trends to bring you the top 10 trends of 2017:
Patagonia is no stranger to bold Purpose marketing campaigns. From “Don’t Buy this Jacket” to “100% for the Planet,” this is a brand that is not afraid to take a risk to stand up for what it believes in. This week, we saw the company take its boldest stance yet, not only directly calling out the President of the United States for “an illegal move” but also announcing it will sue the administration. Yet, for those who track the company, this endeavor should not come as a huge surprise – in fact, the latest announcement is just the next phase of a multi-year consumer engagement campaign, calling on its informed, loyal consumer base for support.
Although it emerged as a top corporate sustainability priority for 2017, respecting and promoting human rights is no easy feat. It involves actively working across supply chains, from owned operations to first-tier suppliers and all the way down into the extended supply chain where raw materials are produced. Given the complexities around the supplier ecosystem, it is not surprising that many businesses struggle to effectively address, tackle and communicate around the issue.
Recently I attended the second annual Facebook Social Good Forum in New York, an invitation-only event of mostly executive-level personnel from nonprofits. The highlight of the day was Mark Zuckerberg’s opening speech. Fresh from a year spent traveling around the U.S. on a listening tour, he shared the main thread that ran through many of his conversations: the importance of community. If we all focus more on strengthening our communities, he said, that will help us build common ground and move forward together.
Since it launched in 2012, #GivingTuesday has grown to become a recognized day of giving back in the U.S. and around the world. Last year, charities raised $180 million —an increase of 44% over the previous year. Now, what started out as a day focused on nonprofits has garnered the attention of companies as well. This year we saw companies create fun and unique ways to invite consumers to purchase while giving back on one of the biggest giving days of the year. Here are a few campaigns that caught our eye:
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a trend of retailers choosing to forgo traditional marketing campaigns during one of the busiest and highest-grossing holiday shopping days (and weekends) of the year and Black Friday 2017 was no different.
During 2017 there has been increased focus on the Sustainable Development Goals and how companies can lead the charge. Many companies are working to improve their supply chains, but rarely share the progress with consumers at the product level. Recently, one company was able to create a supply chain innovation and design a product that shares the initiative with consumers in an easy, accessible way.