CEO Blog: Can purpose-driven marketing restore trust in the media and creative industry?

Posted 28 June 2019

Media Trust CEO Su-Mei Thompson examines the media and creative industry’s focus on social impact at Cannes Lions.

Last week’s Cannes Lions Festival drove home how 2019 is all about purpose. To quote Unilever CEO, Alan Jope: “Purpose is one of the most exciting opportunities I’ve seen for this industry in my 35 years of marketing. Done properly, done responsibly, it will help us restore trust in our industry, unlock greater creativity in our work and grow the brands we love.”

At Media Trust, we welcome the industry’s shift towards social impact. The global advertising industry is worth $600 billion so it has the financial firepower and influence to contribute to societal change from championing racial and ethnic diversity and LGBTQ+ rights to cracking down on plastics.

The global advertising industry is worth $600 billion so it has the financial firepower and influence to contribute to societal change.

Woke-washing

But doing this in an authentic way isn’t easy. Consumers are becoming increasingly cynical about “woke-washing” attempts by brands. As Jope went on to say “There are too many examples of brands undermining purposeful marketing by launching campaigns which aren’t backing up what their brand says with what their brand does. Purpose-led brand communications is not just a matter of ‘make them cry, make them buy’. It’s about action in the world.’

We couldn’t agree more. And for any brands and agencies who would like our help connecting with the third sector and the charities who are working on the social issues that align with their purpose goals, please contact Cara French at caraf@mediatrust.org. We would love to hear from you.

We were also delighted to see a number of our corporate partners win awards last week. A special shout out to adam&eveDDB who won a Silver Lion for their brilliant work on Project84 for the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) movement tackling male suicides, the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK.

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