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Have We Reached The End Of Brand Purpose?

Rather than offering solutions to societal needs, brand ‘purpose’ risks becoming a euphemism for ill-conceived CSR campaigns. The Holmes Report’s Alex Brownsell talks to CMOs, including the marketer behind ‘Fearless Girl’, to find out where brands are going wrong.

Rema Vasan, EVP and a global client director at MSL and a Cannes Lions 2017 jury member, admits that she saw plenty of cause-related award submissions which were little more than “tactical”, but insists that the best purpose-driven campaigns are worth commending.

“Authentic purpose-led marketing is deep-rooted in the brand’s DNA and is consistent over time. As a jury member this year, I did indeed review several purpose-led campaign entries. However, only those few campaigns that led with authenticity, marrying a deep human insight with the brand purpose to positively impact the lives of consumers, were awards,” says Vasan.

Citing MSL’s recent global survey, ‘Business Citizenship & Millennials‘, Vasan points out that 80% of young consumers taking part in the research across 17 countries said they believed brands having a clear purpose was “critical” in determining their purchase decision. “Today’s consumers, particularly millennials, are more savvy than ever before in their understanding of brands, and their choices are not exclusively driven by quality and price,” she says.

One of Vasan’s favourite campaigns was Momondo’s ‘DNA Journey’ – winner of Gold Lion in the Travel, Transport & Leisure – in which the Danish travel brand brought together dozens of people from around the world for a DNA test, and proved that we are more alike – and more complex – than we may sometimes believe. A patriotic Londoner, for instance, was dismayed to find out he was of German heritage. The video content has been viewed hundreds of millions of times.

“The brand was founded in 2006 on the vision that travel can break down the boundaries between people, and the brand purpose is to demonstrate that there are more things uniting than dividing us. The resulting videos were highly impressive. Importantly, the campaign yielded an increase of 2% market share. It is a great example of a brand doing well by doing good,” she says.

“Authentic purpose-led marketing is timeless, but the way purpose is brought to life will continue to evolve, leveraging innovations and causes that are timely, yet play off the purpose. Leading with authenticity can continue to be a successful guiding principle for brands.”

This post is an excerpt from the article published on the Holmes Report.