8 out 10 of consumers expect that CEOs share their own vision
CEOs have become new heros
CEOs are no longer perceived as chiefs but as leaders.
The essential role of the CEOs in assessing the sustainability of the company business is undeniable and is fundamental to its success
Patagonia is an great example of purpose brand

8 out 10 of consumers expect that CEOs share their own vision


There was a time when consumers did not even know the name of a CEO (The Big Boss). Today they have become the ‘new heroes’.

CEOs have become new heros

CEOs are no longer perceived as chiefs but as leaders. The ability to accept risks and direct decision-making processes are some of the distinctive points of today’s CEOs. An exemplary case of leadership is that of Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, who had to face the 2008 crisis, and the consequent downsizing of personnel. Surprising everyone, he decided not to dismiss anyone, stating that people matter more than anything else and that there was probably a better solution that did not imply that workers were being diverted. He even came to declare:

“What would a caring family do in the face of a crisis?” The answer came easily to me: family members would all make a little effort to prevent anyone from suffering a dramatic loss. “

They needed to save 10 million dollars, but Bob refused to fire. So he devised a solution in which each employee, from the secretary to the CEO, had to take a 4-weeks unpaid holiday. But it was the way Bob announced the program that surprised, he said, “we should all suffer a bit so none of us has to suffer a lot.” They ended up saving 20 million dollars.

Patagonia as a purpose brand

Look at Patagonia, a well-known sports apparel brand with nearly 1,300 people, founded in the 1970s by Yvon Chouinard, an example of a ‘humanist imprint’. In 2011 during ‘Black Friday’, Patagonia invited consumers to ‘Don’t buy this jacket’, a revolutionary and counter-current slogan, which promoted a responsible consumption, as a result of the Greenpeace ‘detox’ campaign aimed at discouraging the use of toxic products (DWR, PFOA) in the outdoor clothing industry.

While waiting to find a valid alternative to the highly polluting c8 polymer used for repelling water, the Chouinard company discouraged the purchase (and therefore the production) of new garments. To support the print campaign, Patagonia promoted ‘The stories we wear’, a content platform that reinforced the message for responsible consumption. Even if Patagonia is relatively new to branded content, their content strategy has been tied into its sustainable vision since the beginning. 

In ‘The responsible company’, Chouinard offers a number of examples of how to successfully lead your business without causing damage to the earth, stating:

“I never even wanted to be in business”, he says. “But I hang onto Patagonia because it’s my resource to do something good. It’s a way to demonstrate that corporations can lead examined lives.”

8 out 10 of consumers expect that CEOs share their own vision

The essential role of Chouinard in assessing the importance of sustainability in his own business is undeniable, and is critical for success: research by Edelman shows that ‘79% of consumers expect a company’s CEO to be personally visible in sharing its purpose and vision’

So it’s extremely important for CEO’s to take a position on social issues. They should also clearly be the driving force behind sustainability within the organization, as shown by The Drum and global B2B marketing agency, Gyro’s recent Mind The Gap: How Marketers Feel About Sustainability analysis. 

Many companies are demonstrating that they have the necessary resources and leadership to make the difference in a global society where problems seem to increase. The ‘power games’ of the political parties do not allow Governments to be sufficiently strong and credible in the eyes of their citizens, and not even able to solve universal emergencies, from poverty to environmental problems. 

Now is the time for brands to step in.

Related content: Do Goodvertising And Purposeful Communication Need A Code Of Ethics?

If you are interested in joining the conversation please join our community.

Author: elena grinta

I have been dealing with communication for 20 years, I have worked in marketing for large international and Italian companies and I know the mechanisms of advertising persuasion. I decided to invest my know-how and my skills to use the available resources of companies (budgets but also human capital) in positive transformation. Because to students from all over the world I teach at Purpose Brands in Catholic University I wish to give more and more examples of virtuous companies that have invested for the future, of everyone (and there are already many!). Because if we watch, without acting, without taking responsibility, we have no excuse.