Social purpose: who is doing it well?

by Lulu Trask – Aug 21, 2020

Research by Accenture shows that 66% of consumers in the UK crave greater transparency from companies on their stance on important issues; 37% have stopped doing business with a brand because of its words or actions on a social issue and 31% are attracted to brands that take a stand on political issues they care about. In other words, social purpose is driving customer engagement.

Earlier this month Ben & Jerry’s became embroiled in a very public Twitter row with the UK Government over its handling of the migrant crisis. But you don’t have to take a government to task to prove your company has social purpose. In 2020, a year of societal and environmental unrest, more companies are taking the time to identify and speak out on their core beliefs. Here are the companies we think are nailing it.

BrewDog

Social purpose isn’t new for this brewery, whose UK sites are already being powered by wind, something BrewDog celebrated with the release of its Hello My Name Is Gale beer (in a green can, of course). But its most recent campaign took a slightly different turn. During a live stream, Ricky Gervais (unprompted and unpaid) said he liked BrewDog, and then went on to suggest the fees for celebrity endorsements should be sent to charities instead. To thank Gervais, an active animal welfare campaigner, BrewDog made donations to a selection of animal charities. The brewer has since teamed up with the comedian and two charities, Dogs on the Streets and All Dogs Matter, to launch Street Dog, a rebrand of its most popular beer, which places photos of dogs up for adoption on its cans, giving 100% of profits to the two charities.

Who Gives A Crap

This toilet paper company believes “access to a safe, dignified loo is a basic human right”, yet 40% of the world’s population lacks access to a toilet, which means every two minutes a child under five dies as a result of poor sanitation. So Who Gives A Crap donates 50% of its profits to help build toilets in deprived areas, and has donated more than £4.5 million to date. The company uses its branding to make its customers feel good for doing good too – its 100% recyclable and plastic-free packaging is brilliantly designed to look good in your bathroom, and as a customer you’ll get a special message on your box of toilet paper telling you that “you’ve got a nice bum”. Why, thank you.

TOMS

After befriending children in an Argentinian village only to find they didn’t have shoes to protect their feet, Blake Mycoskie set up TOMS, a shoemaker that matches every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. So far, more than 86 million pairs have been donated to children in more than 70 countries. Building on this success, Mycoskie launched TOMS Eyewear – the same ethos, this time helping give sight to a person in need. The company now runs two annual awareness days – One Day Without Shoes and World Sight Day – to raise awareness of the global issues of poverty and avoidable visual impairment.

Patagonia

This clothing brand is known for its environmental policies, largely using organic and recycled materials, and offers repair, recycling and re-sale services for all of its products, to help reduce the impact of fast fashion. In 2011 Patagonia put out a risky – and highly successful – Black Friday campaign, launching its Common Threads Initiative pledge, which helps to reduce the impact of fashion on the planet. The company said “customers need to think twice before they buy”, so their advert featured a photo of one of its jackets accompanied by the wording ‘Don’t buy this jacket’.

Hey Girls UK

It’s not just big brands that can have an impact. Hey Girls UK is a family-run company that sells environmentally friendly menstrual products while tackling UK period poverty. For every box purchased, it donates a box of products to a young woman in need, and so far has donated more than 10.3 million boxes. The company hit headlines when it printed a cut-out DIY sanitary towel in a newspaper, to highlight the grim reality of the lack of options available to young girls who can’t afford sanitary items.

One of the (many) reasons these brands have been so successful in communicating their social purpose is that they’ve carefully thought about their core values – they haven’t just picked one that complements the flavour of the week. For some these values have been built into the business model from day one, while others have identified a cause along the way.

At Wardour, we think it’s incredibly exciting that social purpose is becoming part of a business’ brand. For example, we’ve worked with Legal & General – just one of many purposeful clients whose work we love at the moment – to create a content hub focused on their ethos of inclusive capitalism and the ways investment in long-term assets, like clean energy, later-life living, city regeneration and innovation hubs, can help to build a better future.

Working with clients to help them identify and communicate their purpose is something very special. It keeps us grounded and reminds us that we all, as individuals and as businesses, have a part to play in creating a better tomorrow.

We’d love to learn about your social purpose – and if you’re not sure what it is, we can help you there too.

Published Aug 21, 2020

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