The arguments for brand purpose are often fuelled by and intertwined with assumptions that one, millennials are immune to advertising and dislike large institutions, and two, that the rate at which the world is moving online is directly proportional to the size of opportunities for brands, and this connectivity has improved business accountability to a point that demands a re-write of the brand marketing playbook.
Both of these assumptions are being methodically unpicked1 and increasingly found to be lacking in substance. It is therefore a good time to also examine the concept of brand purpose with a level head and from the perspective of what really drives brand growth – people.
Behaviourally, people are more inclined to punish than praise. This year has seen its fair share of global brands undermined online by content faux pas. And because what goes on the internet, stays on the internet, these pieces of wayward content are likely to be dredged up repeatedly and shared in ad fail compilations. Sony has had a politically incorrect billboard ad from 10+ years ago re-emerge in such a compilation, alongside more recent examples.