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The Kite Factory

How to get brand purpose right: industry leaders speak

Purpose without purpose is pointless. And consumers see through that fallacy. Leading industry figures explain how they’re trying to get it right – and where they’ve got it wrong.

“Recent research by Edelman found that 81% of consumers consider brand trust when making their purchase decision. But only 34% trust the brands they buy from. And over 50% of consumers think that brands ‘trust wash’, which means they aren’t committed to the purpose they’re talking about.”

James Smith, MD of media agency The Kite Factory, on the topic of “brand purpose”. Smith was speaking at the start of a Campaign Breakfast Briefing, called ‘Putting brand purpose at the heart of brand planning and buying’. 

The event brought together some of advertising’s leading experts in brand purpose, including Johnty Gray of WaterAid, Marina Cheal of Cushon, Matt Bourn of the Ad Association, Sophie Broadbent of AdGreen, Dan Saxby of Elephant Room – and many others. 

The panels and breakout presenters examined issues such as how purpose-centric marketing manifests itself in media behaviour, what brands and agencies can do to support minority-ethnic-owned media owners, how brands can build sustainable business models and how to make communication plans more inclusive.

Gray spoke of the ways in which purpose is built into the essence of his brand: “Water is a basic human right. And human rights underpin everything we do. The most important thing about the way we work, the way we communicate, is our values. These are respect, accountability, courage, collaboration, innovation and integrity.”

Respect, accountability and integrity are of particular importance within the media landscape, Gray explained. The charity’s agencies, he said, often find this challenging at first because of the level of collaboration required across the organisation – and the time this takes. The people the charity serves have to be happy with how they’re represented. “It’s going to fundamentally change the way we communicate. There are certain things we will not talk about in the future.”

Transparent language, transparent values
Marina Cheal, CMO of Cushon – the world's first Net Zero pension – talked about the way her company uses positive messaging to communicate with savers. “We’re very different to the typical players in the industry, who will tell you you’re not saving enough and are going to retire into abject poverty. As marketers, we know that the best way to motivate people is to talk to them in their language and give them transparency. We need to make sure they can see exactly where their money is going and that it aligns with their values.” 

“One of the things we discovered when we entered the business was just how much damage pensions investments are doing to the environment by fuelling climate change. Investors just don’t know about this. We show our members exactly the impact their investments have. And the reason to do this, is because it motivates them to check in, to increase financial engagement. That helps build financial resilience and motivates people to save more.”

Jamie Hewitson, the UK general manager of ethical snack company Hu Kitchen, talked about the importance of values and integrity in the media supply chain. “You probably notice, if you turn to the back of packaging, food is full of industrialised ingredients that you can't even pronounce and don't know what they are. The impact of that, is that your body feels different. You can have low mood or higher anxiety. So, our founding purpose is to harness the power of simple, clean ingredients with a view of getting everyone back to feeling human again."

In answer to an audience member’s question about how to balance purpose and profit, Cheal talked about the company’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. “We’ve gone all out this year. Where we can invest in sustainable businesses we do. Where we can’t we [carbon] offset that out of our own pocket; we want to show that it can be done. It may be unsustainable, because as our customer base grows, it’s going to be very hard to sustain this strategy. But we think if we can, then others should follow.”

The rule of three buckets
In a presentation after the main panel, Bourn talked about the need to rebuild trust in the industry and to tackle the climate emergency. “What do we have to do? It’s actually quite simple. We need to change the way we work and we need to change the work we do. To enable this, we need to understand that there are three buckets of carbon in every advertising campaign. 

“The first bucket is from things such as the office, travel decisions and so on. The second bucket is from the production of the ads. The third bucket is from the distribution, the media channels. We need to track and measure then reduce these. If you want to be in Unilever’s supply chain by 2025, you as a supplier will need to provide them with your carbon data, because legally they’re going to have to report it.”

Other participants included Sophie Broadbent of AdGreen, who talked about the carbon calculator her organisation had created to help advertisers work out the carbon footprint of their work. Co-founders of The Elephant Room, Dan Saxby and Shannie Mears, spoke on the subject of minority inclusion and what brands can do to support it. Marsha Jackson of the Conscious Ad network talked about how conscious advertising can help build a sense of ethics into the ad industry, as part of the effort to gain consent from people targeted by online advertising, eliminating ad fraud and cutting out abuse and hate speech. 

Across the course of the morning, speakers and participants networked, exchanged ideas and listened to peers deliver their insights on putting purpose at the heart of the brand — and how to measure and track the success of brand purpose as an integral part of business operations. 

Chair and Campaign UK editor-in-chief Gideon Spanier summed up the day's events: "If there was a theme, it's that lots of people need to do more. And whatever we think we've done, it's almost certainly not enough. There's an awful lot of people, maybe all of us, thinking that we need to learn from each other and support each other."

Find out how you can attend forthcoming Campaign Breakfast Briefings.  

 

 

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