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Creativity with purpose: doing well while doing good

By Simon White, chief strategy officer, Inferno + Draftfcb

FCB Inferno's Simon White argues that we can have advertising that's good for the bottom line and society too
Originally posted by 12ahead on March 11, 2014.
Advertising is powerful. I don't mean powerful in its ability to make one brand preferred over another, but its power to shape society. I think we often underestimate it because we downplay it to avoid any awkward ethical questions, but the truth is that ad campaigns heavily influence modern culture and our society's values. 
In social psychology we split values into intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic values are those we find inherently rewarding, such as a sense of community, affiliation to friends and family and so on. Extrinsic values however are values based upon the perception of others, based on envy, such as power, material wealth and status. 
Advertising typically appeals to extrinsic values, to own more goods and status symbols and normalising them in the process. However, studies have shown greater exposure to advertising increases a person's emphasis on extrinsic values and decreases concern for others. On top of that these values devalue commitment and loyalty. This is why we need to encourage more intrinsic thinking in our campaigns, especially when brand goals are aimed at durable consumer relationships.
The WWF reopened the debate on the murky morality of adland with their 2011 report "Think of me as evil?" but just because they provided strong evidence for our power, does not mean all is lost. Power doesn't have to corrupt - whether it's good or evil it's how we choose to use it. And it is our responsibility (not just as marketers, but human beings) to use it for good. However, inherent goodness is often associated with a smaller bottom line or inferior products. So can we ever achieve a triple win, creating communication that can be good for the consumer, good for brands, and good for society as a whole?
Put simply: yes. The Internet has opened up and exposed far more issues than we were aware of. Amid the online petitions, Upworthy click-bait, Snowdon revelations and Vice exposés, people are becoming more conscious of their ability to create change. The move from broadcast to dialogue communication has made brands more accountable for their actions and consumers more aware of the impact of their decisions.
Last year Edelman published a report that found 86% of the 8,000 consumers surveyed across 16 markets thought that companies should place at least equal emphasis on their social interests as on their business interests. Additionally, there has been dramatic acceptance of companies and brands "doing well while doing good." A reassuring 76% of global consumers believe it is acceptable for brands to support good causes and make money at the same time.
And this is not just a short-term reaction to some PR crisis. A study by Jim Stengel, ex CMO of P&G and author of "Grow" showed that higher profits and higher ideals are not mutually exclusive, even in the long-term. 
Stengel enlisted global research firm Millward Brown to scour its database of 50,000 brands in 40 countries to see which companies had achieved the most growth between 2001 and 2011 in two categories: financial value and consumer bonding. Through this process, he created a list of 50 brands that had built loyalty by focusing on ideals, and then found that they out-performed the S&P 500 by more than 400% over the decade.
So advertising is massively powerful, and what it achieves is dependent on what the brand wants to achieve – the brand purpose. What does that brand stand for? What ideals are at its core, beyond making profit? In a world of nearly identical products and benefits, purpose can give a creative opportunity as well as a business opportunity. 
Draftfcb's most successful recent campaigns have included standing up for LGBT rights with OREO, creating clean water in thePeruvian desert with UTEC and driving animal adoption with MINI. All of these were designed to sell a product, but also to give back to the community. And it's not just our network, out of 17 categories at Cannes Lions 2013, 12 Grand Prix winners were executions with a societal cause underpinning it. Proving that by pairing incredible intrinsic insights and creative excellence with the right media and innovations you can create effective, enduring campaigns.
Read the original articlehere. ​