Should brands have a higher purpose?

Every brand is born from a purpose. But should brands have a higher purpose? Or, has doing good become the latest trend?

Izzy Ashton

Deputy Editor, BITE


Reformation's sustainability pledge

Every brand is born from a purpose. But should brands have a higher purpose? Or, has doing good become the latest trend? Causes such as diversity, gender equality and pride have seemingly become commodities. What we should be asking is, are brands doing good for a genuine reason? Or are they simply piggybacking onto a cause for their own self-promotion?

In today’s climate, we can’t sit on the side-lines. Brands should use their profiles to do good, whether that’s on a macro or micro level. As a brand, you are going to have to both articulate, and defend, your values because your consumers are watchful and constantly engaged; social media has provided them with the perfect instant feedback platform.

Having worked with huge clothing factories in China, Yael Aflalo, founder of the fashion brand Reformation, decided to do something about the industry’s extreme wastefulness. Her ambition? To make sustainability sexy. Adopting a sarcastic, dry tone for their comms, Reformation became the total antithesis to the conversations that were ongoing around sustainability.

Reformation’s purpose rings true because it embodies the values the company was built on, something all brands entering this space should take note of. Their message “Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. We’re #2,” quickly transcended into the real world, and found a voice at the heart of the bigger global message of sustainability.

A brand’s purpose cannot be chosen tactically. It cannot be a flash in the pan, a glittering exploit that generates a moment in the spotlight for the brand. Purpose should always be more than making money, with a human, not commercial, purpose at its heart.

“Creative people are empathetic people. Our job is to sell stuff, but we can add another layer on that. We can use our creativity to move the needle.” David Droga, when he was accepting the Lion of St Mark award at Cannes earlier this year

We need to use our voices, and those mouthpieces we have at our disposal, to be part of a bigger global conversation and generate positive change. Our job may be to sell stuff, but we have the ability, and responsibility, to move the needle.

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increase in consumer affection for MARS

Maltesers champion diversity through humour

It is easy, as a large organisation, to ignore the feeling that something doesn’t feel right, that something needs to change but you’re not willing or don’t have time to examine what should change. This is where MARS found themselves. As a result of an audit, they realised that, unconsciously, they had ended up with a narrow segment of society represented in their ads.

Working alongside their agency partner, AMV BBDO, and the disability charity Scope, the confectionery brand created a series of ads that they entered into, and subsequently won, Channel 4’s £1million ‘Superhumans Wanted’ competition.

The ads for Maltesers’ featured disabled female actors in lead roles and injected humour into the conversation around disability. The storylines reflected on embarrassments experienced with new boyfriends, as well as behaving badly at weddings, celebrating ‘the lighter side of everyday life’. Humour broke down the conversational barriers and shone a light on a gaping hole in the fair and diverse representation within the advertising world.

The ads were so successful that they are now the core Maltesers ads on air right now, with the latest iteration currently in development to play on the “awkwardness of difference”.

“The role of Maltesers was to tell the stories of women living with disabilities just as people, not [with] pity or [as] superhumans,” said Mitch Oliver, VP of Marketing at MARS. The ads lean towards the lighter side of disability, allowing viewers to see themselves, and those around them, represented on their screens.

AMV BBDO, London
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The Army stands out for Pride

The Army uses camo paint to enable soldiers to blend into their surroundings. But for the Pride festival this year in London, Karmarama worked with the Army to create special edition rainbow camo cream that reminded people that, while normal camo is for blending in, Pride is for standing out. Part of the This is Belonging ethos, the Army handed out a thousand packs at the Pride festival, with 61 serving soldiers taking part in the London march. With print, out of home and social media, the campaign had a total online reach of 3.6m, and encouraged both the serving LGBTQ+ soldiers and those thinking of enlisting to stand out, and be proud of who they are.


Karmarama, London

Microsoft tells girls, you can change the world

For the third year of Microsoft’s #MakeWhatsNext campaign, the tech giant called on girls to stay in STEM, and change the world. Globally, only 16% of women graduate with a STEM degree. This statistic shocks the girls in the video who, when asked what odds they want to change, reply with curing breast cancer, cleaning up the environment and delivering fresh water throughout the world. The ad was released on International Women’s Day and challenges girls to #MakeWhatsNext, regardless of what the statistics say.


m:united//McCann, New York
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