Purpose beyond profit

Brand building has evolved beyond mere marketing to taking a stance on the world. But is there a point to purpose, or is it just greenwash? David Burrows reports

Brand building has evolved beyond mere marketing to taking a stance on the world. But is there a point to purpose, or is it just greenwash? David Burrows reports

In May, Heineken caused quite a stir with its ‘Open Your World’ advert in which the brewer tackles how people talk to their political opposites. There is a feminist thrown together with a member of the ‘new right’ and a climate change denier teamed up with an environmentalist, for example. In pairs, they work together to do various tasks before watching videos of their partner’s opposing points of view. But will they leave or thrash out their differences over a beer (Heineken, of course)?

The advert is just one of a number of ‘purpose-based’ marketing campaigns that have left consumers positive and peeved in equal measure. From Pepsi and Unilever to Lloyds Bank and Apple, big corporates are falling over themselves to tell people that, these days, they’re about more than making profit. 

“We want to become a brand that is purpose driven, as ultimately this builds trust and is exactly what any customer should expect from a business like ours,” said Tesco CEO Mike Smith earlier this year as he launched the supermarket’s campaign to tackle food waste. Danone boss Emmanuel Faber is another who has been pushing purpose over profit. “A revolution is cooking, ...

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