Campaigns that paved the way for purpose

Campaigns that paved the way for purpose

We look back at five key campaigns that paved the way for marketers to firmly establish purpose as a business priority

For many organisations today, Corporate Social Responsibility is as crucial as their Unique Selling Point. But it wasn’t always this way. It is, arguably, only in recent years that CSR has become a priority for business of all sizes.

Collaboration: Missing Type, NHS


Faced with a 40% drop in new donor sign ups, in 2015, NHS Blood and Transplant launched ‘Missing Type’, a campaign to encourage sign ups from new blood donors. By working in collaboration with big-name brands, including Nando’s and Santander, organisations and influencers, ‘Missing Type’ racked up a total reach of over 347,000,000, with over 30,000 people registering to donate.

NHS Blood and Transplant themselves cite the simplicity of the campaign as key to its success and indeed, this will also have been crucial for the collaboration between organisations required to cement its success. In creating a campaign that be translated widely between businesses to have universal appeal, ‘Missing Type’ cements its place as one of the largest public sector campaigns in recent history.

The campaign returned with an international flare for 2016, which included partnerships with Boots and Microsoft, with the tech giant running a dedicated TV campaign to support the movement. In July’s edition of Catalyst magazine, CIM members can hear from Andrea Ttofa, head of organ donation marketing at NHS Blood and Transplant and Scott Allen, global marketing development and strategy director for Microsoft, on the partnership. Speaking exclusively at the Catalyst roundtable, Ttofa cited this collaboration as a “great example of a strategic partnership”, with Allen confirming that the alignment “really resonated internally”.


Courage: Dream Crazy, Nike


Marking the anniversary of the iconic ‘Just Do It’ motif, last year Nike made a powerful statement by signing ostracized American football player Colin Kaepernick to be the face of their ‘Dream Crazy’ campaign. Kaepernick famously knelt during the national anthem, sparking a wider protest movement against racial injustice in the United States. Most recently, the iconic billboard execution (pictured) took home the Outdoor Grand Prix at the 2019 Cannes Lions.

This is not the first time the Nike marketing team have divided opinion. The sportswear giant has previously run advertising featuring the since-scandalised Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods whilst allegations of various natures were still weighing heavy.

Whilst the campaign initially divided the general public, if the reactionary #JustBurnIt is anything to go by, sports and social justice giants LeBron James and Serena Williams expressed support for Kaepernick and the sensitive execution of a seemingly risky gambit. Risky indeed, as Nike’s stock dropped 3.17% on the day the signing was announced. Refusing to pull the advert, Nike instead focused on the long-term rewards, with the campaign resonating particularly with the younger demographic they wished to target. Since the advert aired, Nike’s market value has soared to over $6 billion.


Conversation-starting: Find Your Magic, Axe


Long before Gillette’s divisive ‘The Best a Man Can Be’ advert, back in 2017 Axe asked the question, “Is it OK for guys to be emotional?”; “To not like sports?”; “To wear pink?”

The campaign was backed by research that showed 59% of men believe they should act strong even if they feel scared, and, worryingly, nearly half think they shouldn’t ask for help with their problems, according to Axe’s findings. Forming part of their wider ‘Find Your Magic’ positioning, Axe partnered with influencers and three not-for-profits to deliver their message, including anti-bullying organisation Ditch the Label, to find new ways to tackle the issues posed by representations of masculinity.

For Axe, a brand that once depicted its products transforming men into magnets for female attention, this was a significant step change. Like Gillette would do some time after, the campaign reflected a more enlightened tone, accepting responsibility for where it might have slipped up in the past and striving to convene a more inclusive conversation.


Cultural: Global Citizen, HSBC


Earlier this year, HSBC launched the latest of their ‘Global Citizen’ campaigns, entitled ‘We Are Not an Island’. The billboard and accompanying TV advertising divided opinion for its seemingly clear view on Brexit, despite the bank fervently denying accusations that it was “anti-Brexit”. Doubts were cast regarding HSBC’s authority to deliver this message, where issues with the economy were cited as a key concern that led to the Brexit vote.

Speaking on the campaign in January, CIM marketing director Gemma Butler said, “There have been reverberations around HSBC’s authority to deliver a message like this, but perhaps criticism hasn’t extended much beyond this because they haven’t put a stake in the ground. They didn’t have a single, clear anti-Brexit message; rather, they’re saying we’re all together in this, which is a unifying statement, not a divisive one.”

Is making this kind of cultural statement a risky move in polarised times? “The campaign is delivering a key message that resonates particularly with a new, younger audience – a strategy that many businesses are employing. That’s not particularly risky,” she concludes. Indeed, according to HSBC last year, third quarter revenue was up nine per cent.


Consistent: Estée Lauder, Breast Cancer Campaign

Pleasingly ahead of the curve, as early as 1992, global beauty brand Estée Lauder launched the Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Campaign, founded by the late Evelyn H. Lauder. The initiative, which has the ultimate aim of ending breast cancer, is active in over 70 countries worldwide and has raised more than $76 million for research and education on the disease.

To bring awareness to the cause, activities have included the Global Landmark Illuminations Initiative, which lit up 26 landmarks globally, and the Ribbons of Light campaign. In recent years, the campaign has expanded to include representation for the 1% of breast cancer cases that are diagnosed in men.

Purpose does indeed have roots in the cosmetics industry. Back in 1989, The Body Shop became the first global cosmetics company to campaign to bring an end to animal testing in cosmetics, a campaign that became UK legislature in 1998. The Body Shop have since campaigned to bring in a global ban, following the European Union’s subsequent ban. They have, for years, been seen as the benchmark for CSR in Britain.

With purpose permanently staking its claim in the marketing agenda, these campaigns give an example of how and why issues of social good became so ingrained with marketing and where this has delivered demonstrable results. In some cases, this has meant greater revenue in the long-term, even after taking a short-term hit. As customers expect environmental and social standpoints from the brands they interact with, these issues look to have permanently shifted our view of what marketing can achieve with a little conscience.

If you're intent on a marketing career pursuing purpose, find your dream position at CIM Marketing Jobs.

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