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September 8, 2022 // Jess Docherty  //       //  Opinion

The P Word

If you’re anything at all like me, you’ve spent a big chunk of lockdowns and even more time as restrictions have eased trying to redefine and reconnect with the elements of your life that matter the most. Whether it's volunteering, campaigning, donating or simply having important conversations on social, ethical and environmental issues, having clarity on your core values and taking action to realise the change you want to see in the world is essential to surviving in an increasingly challenging world.

I’ve observed this same trend not just amongst friends and family but also in the organisations I value most. In recent years, we’ve seen a shift in the number of organisations tapping into social good initiatives that align with their teams’ core values, shattering the misconception that you can either be 'for good' or 'for-profit'. 

Some of the world's leading companies show the intersection between purpose and profit is crucial to long-term resilience, but what exactly are purpose-driven campaigns? Well, the ad council defines purpose driven marketing as ‘a strategy used by an organisation to centre its external communications efforts around a social cause that aligns with its core values. The goal of purpose-driven marketing is for an organisation to develop a deeper rapport with their consumer base by creating authentic connections based on shared values.’  

The WARC Effective 100, a ranking of the world most awarded campaigns and companies for effectiveness include purpose driven brand campaigns like Nike's 'Crazy Dreams', Bodyform’s ‘#wombstories’ and Persil’s ‘Dirt Is Good’ 

For me it's that keyword authentic is the most important to remember when starting to develop your own purpose-driven campaigns. Before thinking about your campaign, you first need to start with the basics by reviewing your organisation’s mission, vision and values to assess the issues closest to home that you can have a meaningful impact on. From there, define a clear plan with targets and goals that you can clearly and honestly communicate with customers or clients. Only when this is complete can you start to look at meaningful activity you can include in your campaigns to help drive toward the bigger-picture goal. 

Once you’ve defined your purpose, using paid media can help bring your message to a much larger audience of clearly defined contacts who share your passion. But your ad strategy, advertising and media practices must actively demonstrate your commitment to your core values. Here are just a few actionable steps you can take today to ensure you have a responsible ad strategy:  

  1. Conscious Media Investment: Choose to invest in quality and inclusive media, while defunding media that promotes dangerous narratives. 
  2. Audit Brand Safety Tools: According to a CHEQ study in the U.S., 73% of LGBTQ+ friendly channels are blocked by industry-standard blocklists. Blocklists can propagate stereotypes so you should run tests to analyse the volume of blocked content and refresh the lists regularly to remove ambiguous terms while maintaining brand safety.   
  3. Select Inclusive Partners: Work with partners who are aligned to your values and have a clear, transparent roadmap for change. Work with your CFO or executives team to ensure alignment on driving the positive social change your business wants to see is there from the get go.  
  4. Schedule Regular Research: Stay conscious of the audience you target and plan in regular research projects that allow you to benchmark the success of your campaigns, and look for new ways to make them more accessible. 

The move toward more conscious and connected businesses is a positive one that should be encouraged at all levels. It's important as marketers to take a step back and interrogate our practices to improve them in line with those values, take them beyond ideals and allow them to permeate the whole organisation. If you’re looking for advice on post-pandemic opportunities to make a difference, take a look at this recent piece by Emma Poleszuk. Or if you’d like to chat more about how to take your values and apply them to your upcoming campaigns, drop me a line at 

Jess is a vice president on the London team who directs performance-driven strategies that deliver increased brand awareness, engagement and qualified leads. She has led many national and international campaigns across a broad range of brands from large multinationals to ambitious start-ups. 

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