Trends 2016: post-purpose

Volkwagen emissions scandal: from purpose to enlightened brands
Volkwagen emissions scandal: from purpose to enlightened brands

Marketers must adapt to a future where established ways of living, working and playing are changing rapidly. As part of our 'post-everything' trends series, Marketing takes a deeper look at 'post-purpose'.

As explored in Marketing’s October issue, brands must now dig deep and shine from the core.

Advertising’s veneer has been stripped away and consumers are looking for true brand enlightenment. While having a clearly defined reason for being is still vital, it has to go deeper than ever before, penetrating organisational culture at every level.

Clients have to change their brands from the inside-out if they are going to regain people’s trust

The most pertinent recent example of a brand’s fall from grace due to a lack of this kind of enlightenment is, of course, the Volkswagen emissions scandal. After decades of building trust through consumer-facing marketing, the auto manufacturer self-sabotaged by not practising what it preached.

This felt like a betrayal that even the most loyal customer might struggle to reconcile and within days of the revelation, nearly 35% – $25bn – had been wiped off the value of its shares.

In the wake of the scandal, Grey London’s chief executive, Lucy Jameson – who oversaw the VW account while at DDB – said: "It’s a great cautionary tale. It shows you shouldn’t be doing something that will damage your reputation because it will impact your share price."

With this in mind, Grey is one of several agencies that are taking a more holistic approach to the business of branding. The focus is shifting from broadcast to culture, and from purpose to enlightenment.

"Clients have to change their brands from the inside-out if they are going to regain people’s trust," Jameson told Marketing. "And creatives can help them. I believe there’s a huge opportunity to apply our brains and creativity to the guts of brands, not just their shiny surfaces."

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