Brands have a duty of care to their communities this Christmas

Giving back is both morally right and commercially smart for businesses

Zara Ineson

Executive Creative Director House337


With the economic crisis farting on our fun and institutions failing us, I hope this Christmas, our most-loved big businesses and brands will wield their scale and influence for good. Business leaders should come to the party with generosity and kindness, acting on purpose-led brand values by supporting the communities that have supported them.

It’s not surprising, but no less alarming to hear community causes across the nation are on their knees - from mental health initiatives to food & clothing banks. Last month, charities wrote an open letter to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt saying the demand for help, is higher than the resource available. It’s bleak. However, I have faith our treasured national brands, who will survive Christmas, will step up.

Businesses giving back is both morally right and commercially smart.

Zara Ineson, ECD, House337

Because here’s the sitch: businesses giving back is both morally right and commercially smart. In the recent House337 Demand Index, which unpacks the factors that drive desirability for high street fashion retailers, the brands who put community first in what they stand for and how they behave, increase consumer desire and demand, thus creating economic resilience. And this year's Edelman Trust Barometer shows societal leadership is now seen as a core business role — with over half of Brits wanting to hear more about what businesses are doing to positively impact society.

Through the right partnerships, big brands will make a big difference at a local level. For Christmas, M&S have joined with The Neighbourly Foundation in their ‘Gifts That Give’ campaign. The gifts you choose from M&S, help support community good causes across the nation. A welcome change for the fashion industry who typically trade hard with product-centric messaging over the festive season.

Anna Braithwaite, M&S Clothing and Home Marketing Director says, “When we found out that many charitable groups are experiencing a drop in funding, we knew we had to put community spirit right at the heart of this year’s campaign. M&S has always been there for the nation. Through our partnership with Neighbourly, we’re thrilled to be supporting 1,000 incredible organisations this Christmas and shining a spotlight on the positive and lasting impact they make in their communities.”

Eilidh Radcliffe, one part of the House337 Creative Director duo behind the work, adds, “The past few years have shifted our perceptions on personal responsibility. We’re more conscious of what we say, how we act and show care for those around us. Brands who ignore this shift, quite simply, feel out of step with the world today.”

And before you say I’ve got my head in the sand, I get it, there are many retailers facing big economic challenges right now. But the problem is the brand. And to CMO’s facing similar financial challenges, I’d say your time is now. Not to scrimp and save on a race-to-the-bottom price led approach but tap into your brand purpose and do your bit to support the people that have supported you. The evidence from the 2008 financial crisis shows that maintaining brand investment in a challenging climate helps recovery, with strong brands bouncing back nine times faster.

So as we roll into the festive season, let's all ask ourselves — who are the communities our brands have a duty of care towards? And what more can we do to help them this Christmas?

At the end of the day, it’s cool to be kind.

Guest Author

Zara Ineson

Executive Creative Director House337


Zara is Executive Creative Director at the newly formed creative collective, House337. She has over 15 years experience building brand desire for some of the biggest names in fashion & lifestyle retail. From luxury heritage to modern mainstream, she injects cultural magnetism and social meaning into the brands she transforms. Her global client list expands The Prada Group, Mercedes-Benz, Liberty, M&S, Kurt Geiger Group, Westfield, G-Star and Habitat. Zara is an ambassador for the Creative Mentor Network and was selected for Campaign’s ‘Future Leaders List’ as one of the top 30 female rising stars in the industry in 2021.

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