Tug of war

Where Does The Corporate Purpose Agenda Lie?

12 May 2021

At We Are Futures much of our purpose-driven work is spread between both CSR teams and marketing teams. Whilst there’s, perhaps, no right or wrong answer to where purpose should lie in a company, from our own experience in creating truly impactful ‘purpose’ campaigns, we’d agree that the ideal scenario would be for CSR & Marketing departments to integrate from the start. CSR will provide the authenticity and credible action; marketing will activate for commercial impact and keep the customer at the forefront of the project.

When both teams combine – or perhaps better still where the core objectives of each overlap – there is a sweet spot where the results speak for themselves: budgets work harder and activity can become effective in meeting both short and long term objectives.

Whoever is running the show, the bottom line remains the same from a customer perspective. Margaret Jobling of NatWest makes this quite clear in the recent May 2021 issue of Campaign when she states that  

“Brands need to be reflecting people’s concerns in an authentic meaningful way or risk becoming irrelevant.” – Margaret Jobling, NatWest.

This idea is reinforced in our own research into Family Values, further underlining the importance of education as key to the strategy. We found that:

  • 83% of parents believe it’s important that the brands they buy deliver on values of social responsibility.
  • 79% of parents now want brands to display a higher purpose and 75% believe investment in educational initiatives are important.

So it is not simply a question of whether CSR focused briefs can impact sales, they can and they do. Quite often they look beyond the immediacy of commercial return and look at long-term social impact. Nor is it a suggestion that a marketing initiative cannot address societal issues, they can and should, but to do so effectively they need to be communicating tangible actions. It is more a question of defining ‘purpose’ and then building campaigns that activate this though the right channels, with the right messaging.

The issue that needs resolving is this. Previously, CSR storytelling has often had to operate with limited resources, whilst marketing’s commitment to action orientated initiatives have been shallow engagements of what they could be. It’s getting this mix right that unlocks the ‘sweet spot of purpose’, and that’s where we at We Are Futures can help shift the focus.

Working with NatWest, we revamped their legacy CSR programme – teaching financial education to children – into a multi-award-winning initiative.  In early 2020, ‘MoneySense’ took centre stage in their ATL marketing – following the internal & external impact of the programme’s success, and seamlessly integrates both CSR & Marketing.  Click here for more.

We also supported the launch of Unilever’s Lifebuoy, where both CSR and marketing teams combined to deliver their “most successful product launch for years”: with a valuable purpose that taught young people about hand hygiene, while donating products to children from deprived communities.  Click here for more.

The impact of positive, purpose-led campaigns on colleagues cannot be ignored either: our Sky Skills Studio programme – life skills for young people – has increased pride among 80% of Sky’s employees. Click here for more.

At We are Futures, we better connect brands with young people and their families, delivering authentic brand purpose, and social & commercial impact. 

If you’re currently debating who should own the purpose agenda, we’d love to put some time in to discuss your objectives and share some of our 17+ years’ worth of learning against this debate.

Don’t hesitate to let us know when suits, we’d love to share more!

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