Share

The events of 2020 have forced businesses to reassess and rethink their approach to advertising and, to an even greater degree, the foundations upon which their brands have been built. 

With Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, brands have had to make swift decisions about their creative strategies and to pivot in their messaging. They have had to wrestle with the need to be responsible in their actions and authentic in their communication, and take an honest look at how they have behaved in the past. This has been tough for all businesses but, arguably, it has been tougher for those that don’t have a defined purpose. Businesses with a purpose have a clear destination and a strategic framework that enables them to quickly establish their position on key events.

This has been tough for all businesses but, arguably, it has been tougher for those that don’t have a defined purpose.

The concept of purpose has been around for several years, but what we are seeing now is the real value of true purpose. Not just a brand statement or a tactical alignment, but a purpose that is rooted at the very core of a business. Purpose is about a company’s reason for existence, how it operates, how it treats its staff and customers and how it goes to market.

Mattel – Dads Who Play Barbie

Credits
powered by Source

Unlock full credits and more with a Source membership.

Credits
powered by Source
Show full credits
Hide full credits
Credits powered by Source
Above: Mattel's purpose has been reflected in the advertising messages it creates.

More companies now understand the need to adopt a purpose that is fully embedded in the DNA of their business. And from Revolt’s recent white paper, Bridging the Gap, which looked in-depth at 101 leading companies across 12 categories, we have seen that more companies are now adopting a purpose that is focused on the positive impact they can have on our lives, rather than on simply what they do as a business. Today, 41% of major businesses embrace a purpose that is supporting their commercial aspirations through clear and direct action to help improve the world in some way. 

In contrast to the environmental and social campaigns of previous decades, when corporates were accused of ‘purpose-washing’ or ‘greenwashing’, we are seeing companies actively involving their whole business in their purpose. Companies are now building clear roadmaps enabling the different parts of the business to actively contribute to their purpose goal. For example, adidas has created a ‘family’ structure uniting its brands under its ‘Through Sport We have the Power to Change Lives’ purpose, and at IKEA all parts of business fall under the single purpose of creating ‘A Better Everyday Life’.

With a purpose that is fully embedded in a company’s DNA it can play a fundamental role in shaping and influencing its advertising.

And with a purpose that is fully embedded in a company’s DNA, and involving the whole of its organisation, it can play a fundamental role in shaping and influencing its advertising. From our research, we found that purpose is becoming central to companies’ marketing and creative strategies. The majority of companies - 65% - now communicate their purpose activities within their marketing, and 27% are using paid media to do this.

IKEA – The Hare

Credits
powered by Source

Unlock full credits and more with a Source membership.

Credits
powered by Source
Show full credits
Hide full credits
Credits powered by Source
Above: IKEA's promise to help create a better everyday life is followed in the company's advertising.


The most successful, most enduring, are using their purpose related activities to squarely drive brand equities rather than as a bolt on. Both adidas and Nike would be good examples of how ‘purpose’ has acted almost as a Trojan horse into young consumers; they are taking strong stands on diversity and sustainability but using them as a gateway to reinforce their core sporting credentials. IKEA, Mattel and Budweiser are all taking a similar approach, so it’s no surprise that their ‘purpose activity’ is becoming more front and centre of what they communicate on.

Our heightened awareness of world events and global movements is motivating a growing number of companies to focus their purpose activities on ‘missions’.

And, for a growing number of companies, this communication is being shaped by the position they are taking in reaction to key world events, such as the killing of George Floyd. Our research found that 77% of companies now communicate around Pride, 53% activate Earth Day, and 16% focus efforts on World Refugee Day.

Our heightened awareness of world events and global movements is motivating a growing number of companies to focus their purpose activities on ‘missions’. For example, Unilever has a movement to shift policy on racism and Lego’s is aimed getting more people to recycle. Revolt discovered that over 30% of companies now look to build their reputations through a branded mission.

Nike – Nike: Equality

Credits
powered by Source

Unlock full credits and more with a Source membership.

Credits
powered by Source
Show full credits
Hide full credits
Credits powered by Source
Above: Nike is one of the companies taking a strong position on real-world issues. 


In line with this focus on movements is a growing emphasis on alliances. More companies are now forming alliances with staff, brands and partners that become the crucial building blocks for the momentum of their purpose. Forward-thinking companies are turning their internal campaigns into external reputation builders through their earned (Starbucks), owned (adidas) and paid for media (Walmart).

Too often there is a ‘purpose gap’ between what the public expect and what they actually experience. 

In future, we are going to see more forward-thinking companies properly embracing purpose. We are going to see the closing of the gap between what companies say and what they actually do. Too often there is a ‘purpose gap’ between what the public expect and what they actually experience. This gap has to be addressed.

In future, businesses will be more accountable. It will no longer be enough to heavily publicise a small change with a big advertising campaign and brands will find impact measurement as important a part of the equation as their marketing measurement. This will see brands  taking more time to understand what needs to happen to make a difference on the issue they profess to care for, rather than just focussing on what needs to happen to generate a PR spike.

Share