Though purpose-based marketing is a lot less glamorous than other marketing strategies, it’s time for the advertising industry to invest in purposeful marketing, swaying opinions—and driving change.
The marketing industry is obsessed with the word “purpose” as it is of paramount importance to generate impact. Firms assume that they are purpose-driven, but many brands lack purpose, failing to create value-based campaigns. The idea of “purpose” in the abstract seems perfect, but implementing it correctly in advertising strategies is difficult. The advertising industry has witnessed some of the most significant cultural shifts due to creative work produced by talented people based on delivering “purpose.” An advertising campaign that can shift norms or make society better is always more successful. Online campaigns or social media marketing campaigns with purpose are the ones who spread the fastest.
Recent research by Reach PLC and Ipsos Connect found that nearly 70% of consumers don’t trust advertisements, and 42% don’t trust brands with more prominent names and claims. Customers are unhappy with the “arrogance” associated with brand purpose. Over 50% of people surveyed claimed that they wouldn’t trust a brand until they see its commitments dedicated to a cause play out in the real world. Many of them use the terms “establishment” and “elite” to describe the superficial efforts that many brands make around purpose.
The advertising industry is paying a lot of lip service to comforting issues with often very little follow-through. The market has witnessed glamorous marketing copy and glossy visuals making a difference. But, when compared with a purpose-based campaign, they do not generate a more prolonged impact.
As the ad-industry is transforming, firms need to have a ‘purpose’ to understand how companies, brands, and agencies can authentically make a difference. Firstly, brands need to identify causes that are a part of the DNA of the company. This means deciding to drive change in an arena that authentically aligns with the company vision.
There are a few firms that have successfully implemented purpose-based marketing – Nike sponsorship of the U.S. women’s soccer team rousing gender equality ad seen around the world. P&G’s “The Talk” campaign with 13-year-old My Black Is Beautiful initiative – continues to change mindset transforming the world through conversation. Bumble’s Super Bowl advertisement featuring Serena Williams was just the tip of the iceberg focusing on women empowerment. All these three brands experienced massive success online as well as offline as the “purpose” hit customers resulting in better retention.
Once a brand decides on the cause they want to rally behind, they need to commit to it completely. Firms need to make purpose a core part of their business and marketing strategies. Digital marketers are entirely shifting their focus to “purpose-based” content as it sells the best with maximum shares and likes.
Lastly, firms need to be sincere about driving an impactful change, guided by hard metrics; one can point to, measure, and compare over the years. Given that almost 60% of businesses don’t measure their cause-related campaigns’ impact, actually analyzing the purpose-driven marketing will set companies apart in this industry.