Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Last week at SCA we were lucky enough to get a masterclass from Kerry Thorpe.

Bet you’re jealous right? 

In case you don’t know (which is criminal! You should know who she is) Kerry is the Head Of Communications at Ben & Jerry’s 

Purpose is a huge draw in the industry and has been for sometime. In a world that often seems more and more f**** it makes sense that we would reach out for something that helps us feel a bit more in control and helps us feel like we’re doing good. But what makes this interesting is that we were also lucky to have a talk from Steve Harrison.

(No, I don’t mean the bloke from Stranger Things with the funky hair. I mean incredibly successful, incredibly northern copywriting legend turned successful author) 

I make the connection because Steve spoke to us so passionately about purpose-led marketing and how in our pursuit of making work that has an impact and resonates we’ve gone too far. We’ve over-corrected and need to bring it back a little. Because all kinds of brands are putting purpose-led work out there but behind the scenes there’s no real change

But Kerry spoke to us about purpose and bands and how that all works in today’s modern world. More and more brands are realizing that purpose goes far beyond profits. Punters want to see companies stand for something meaningful that creates positive change in society. This has seen more work centered around driving social impact—and brands acting as activists.  

From tackling racial injustice to fighting climate change, brands are tackling societal issues that matter to their customers. And they are intertwining these causes into their products, messaging, and business models. Kerry spoke to us about Ben & Jerrys and how they do it so well. She spoke about their long history of progressive activism by lobbying for policies aligned with their environmental and social justice values. Importantly referencing. There was also mention of other brands who do so well in this space, like Patagonia donating 1% of sales to grassroots environmental groups while encouraging customers to increase votes for pro-planet political candidates.  

By standing up for issues their audiences care about, purpose-driven brands boost affinity and trust. Consumers today will vote with their wallets to support companies reflecting their own principles. Recent research shows over 70% of millennials are willing to spend more on brands that take public stands for social and environmental good.  

But there is a fine line between authentic, meaningful messaging versus empty lip service or “woke washing.” Purpose needs to be woven into the brand ethos from Day 1. And this is where it gets really interesting because Steve spoke about this so passionately. It’s not enough for a brand to just say they support a certain cause or are passionate about being a force for social change. They have to BE ACTIVE in actually doing things that help.

In other words. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is. 

I can’t think of a better way to explain this than by a story i read a few years ago

The story goes that when a potential client approached Bill Bernbach (The B in DDB), he recommended another agency that he believed could better meet the client’s needs. This act of putting the client’s interests first and prioritizing quality work over personal gain is often cited as a testament to Bernbach’s integrity and commitment to excellence in advertising. But it also kind of proves my point i think.

It also leads to another one of my favourite quotes from him: 

“A Principle Isn’t a Principle Until it Costs You Something”

The brands seeing success view brand purpose and social consciousness not as a trend but an obligation. They involve sustainability teams and activists early on to shape business plans and ingrain accountability across the company. They also form partnerships with nonprofits to magnify reach and community impact.  

In other words they: Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is.

And that’s how they do so well. 

Thank you to Kerry and to Steve for both sides of the purpose coin in a week. And thank you reader for reading. 

Peace and Love x


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