Since 2017, corporate organizations took the lead (VS. Non-Profit) in creating purposeful campaigns, both in terms of the absolute numbers and relative percentages. Since purposed brands are now becoming a more popular and rewarded part of society, this obliges others to “follow or die”. Staying in the dark with matters as important as sustainability or not knowing how to communicate their efforts are some of the reasons why consumers are now ‘shaming’ brands. In such a competitive market like the one we have today, in order to keep growing, brands must step-up and become more sustainable, turning social impact not as their path but as their goal.

Purpose Brands Are Determined to Take a Stand

If you have been following my activity within the last 5 years, you have probably already heard me discuss how brand storytelling and branded content & entertainment are essential for engaging with end-users. You probably also know that BC&E effectiveness has much more to do with brand values than sales or lead generation.

RELATED CONTENT: Branded Entertainment: How Does It Work?

For companies that have values to share, communicating with an active and conscious target is a great resource and, also, a big challenge. That’s probably why purposeful campaigns have recently become a  trend in advertising and some global companies are promoters of “visions” or cultural movements distributed on large-scale platforms. Take for example GE’s Ecomagnation, M&S Plan A, and Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan.

“Purpose must sit at the core of the brand, driving everything it does. It can not be an add-on or something that comes and goes according to whim or budget. It’s this authenticity that consumers recognize and reward, because today’s consumers, especially millennials, can smell bullshit a mile away”
– Keith Weed, Chief Marketing And Communications Officer Unilever 

And we have seen several brands take these opportunities with a great outcome, some to the point of being awarded for such a great scope at the Cannes Lions Festival.

In 2017, Dentsu Aegis found that purposeful campaigns have taken a large part of the winning entries at Cannes during the past five years, “taking home 29% of the Grand Prix or Gold Lions in the previous four years, with a significant increase in 2017, where nearly 50% of the awards were handed to purposeful campaigns.” This trend was confirmed in 2018: almost 60% (15 out of 27) of Cannes Grand Prix winners were assigned to purposeful campaigns. And in 2019, the purposeful trend continued with even more gusto, with 16 out of the 21 Grand Prix prizes being award to purposeful campaigns.

Since 2017, Corporate Organizations Took the Lead (VS. Non-Profit) in Creating Purposeful Campaigns, Both in Terms of the Absolute Numbers and Relative Percentages.

That is probably why 2018 epitomizes the festival’s attention to environmental and social causes through the launch of a new category: the Sustainable Development Goals Award. In this category, 11 out of 20 campaigns were made by a corporate organization rather than an NGO. 4 awards were given to Carrefour for “Black Supermarket.”

One SDG award was given to Enel Romania for “The Nest Address“(Life on Land), one SDG Award to P&G for The Talk,” one SDG Award to Kelloggs for “Uniform Against Malnutrition,” one SDG Award to Fazer for “Cricket,” and one SDG Award to Ikea Italy for “The Room,” just to name a few.

Some of these campaigns won the most important categories too: Film (“The Talk”) and Creative Effectiveness (“Savlon Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks”) – victories that, for the first time, emphasized social impact more than business results.

In 2019, the SDG Grand Prix was given to the project “The Lion’s Share,” a collaboration between the production company FINCH, Clemenger BBDO, and Mars Inc. “The Lion’s Share” is an initiative to get any company or organization that uses animals in its campaigns or advertisements to donate .5% of its profit to the Lions Share Trust, which will distribute the money to projects around the world to fight extinction and habitat loss.

The SDG Gold Lions were given to the Millennium School for “The Open Door Project,” Street Grace for “Gracie AI,” and Google for “Morse Code for GBoard.”

All this creates a model for other brands to follow because, since purpose brands are now becoming more and more popular, this obliges others to “follow or die.” Staying in the dark with social and environmental matters or failing how to communicate their sustainable efforts are some of the reasons why consumers are now “shaming” brands. In such a competitive market, in order to keep growing, brands must step-up and become more sustainable, turning social impact not as their marketing strategy but as their goal.

RELATED CONTENT: Purposeful Communication: Opportunity or Threat?

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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.