Few people would argue that the Gillette ad about toxic masculinity is the first major marketing story of 2019.

Although the sentiment on social media seems to skew negative so far, the proof is in the pudding. Like Nike, the Kaepernick campaign was attributed to increasing sales by 31% immediately after, and pushing the market value of the company up by $6 billion.

And it’s no wonder marketers are taking the risk of flocking their brand purpose. The 2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study shows that 66% of Americans would switch from a product they typically buy to a new product from a purpose-driven company, and 79% of Americans say they are more loyal to purpose-driven brands than traditional brands.

But what makes good purpose marketing?

I look back at some of my favourite purpose marketing campaigns in 2018 to see what we can learn from them.

Natural Alignment  -  This Coke is a Fanta

The “This Coke is a Fanta” campaign that was executed in Brazil is probably my favourite purpose-driven campaign in 2018.

The clever part of this campaign is that it uses an existing social phenomenon with the brand name already incorporated. This is similar to how naturally Nike’s “Just Do It” spirit aligned with how Kaepernick sacrificed his career for his activism.

Lesson Learned: If your brand or product is already used in a social cause, take advantage of it.

Context for Your Audience -  Castle Beer

We’ve all see the Heineken’s “Worlds Apart” campaign where strangers talk about political differences. By all count, it’s a big PR win if you measure success by video views and exposure, with over 13M views in the first month of its release. However, I’ve yet to meet anyone who equates Heineken with openness any more than other beer brands.

Castle Beer in South Africa uses a similar concept for their #SmashTheLabel campaign. Take a look at this video they produced for Reconciliation Day in December.

While it is very similar to the Heineken video, when you consider the historical context of labeling in South Africa, you can feel the special meaning behind people’s exchange, and the special relevance for its audience.

[In case you are wondering about the exposure — Although this official video only shows 347K views as of Jan 26, 2019, the video shared by Inga Qhayiya Siyavuya Galeni is already showing 7.1M views.]

They also had a number of tactics to support #SmashTheLabel leading up to this, including a period of time that they sold their beer without the label.

Preliminary results are looking great for Castle Beer — It’s just been named 25th most valuable beer brand in the world. Not shabby for a local beer in a not very populous country.

Lesson Learned: Consider the context of the audience and find the angle that resonates.

Amplification - Refuge

This is a bit of a cheat. It’s not really a purpose marketing example for a brand. Refuge is a non-profit that fights against domestic violence and violence against women and girls. This past holiday season, Refuge UK launched a campaign with a series of poems that tell the story of women and children who have experienced domestic violence at Christmas.

Christmas Eve, Refuge UK

Not only is the word play clever, the additional layer of how domestic violence is often hidden beneath a disguise of normalcy is so brilliantly delivered. It is also a relatively inexpensive creative execution that can be expanded to different occasions.

The unfortunate part though is the lack of amplification of this campaign. Much of the exposure came from the marketing world, which was probably great exposure for their agency who put together the campaign. Tweets generally have under 100 retweets, while official videos are showing around 1,000 views. There is no public information around donations or awareness targets, but compared to some of the campaigns mentioned above, I wouldn’t think this campaign got the broad reach it deserved.

Lesson Learned: A campaign that is not amplified becomes a waste of effort.

Brand purpose is a long-term commitment. Brands who are riding the fad may create campaigns that give them some short term buzz, but consumers will see that it’s not authentic. Brands like Nike, Patagonia who stick with what they stand for are ultimately going to be rewarded by their customers.

Margaret Ngai

Fusion of artsy interests & geeky minds. Passionate about smart marketing & startups. Always single focus on good food. She/Her
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