The following piece is taken from our report – Advertising Pays 8: UK Advertising’s Social Contribution – and is written by Mark Evans, Managing Director for Marketing and Digital at Direct Line Group, on advertising’s power to make a social contribution.
Today, the average consumer is far more connected to what is going on in the world. We are all more aware of the uncomfortable truths around poverty, conflict and climate change. We all have a responsibility to contribute to making the world a better place.
At a personal level, if you believe in the good forces in this world – equality, fairness, inclusion – then working in an industry that has a positive impact on society is fundamental. Within advertising, there is an upward trend in the positive social contribution that the industry is making.
We know that trust is a key issue in our industry. Increasingly consumers can distinguish between companies making authentic purpose-based contributions and those cashing in on a trend for commercial gain, only superficially attempting to be purpose-driven or even ignoring the conversation altogether.
Moving forward, I would like to believe that the brands that will be most successful will be those that are true to their social purpose and the causes they seek to support. I am increasingly convinced that consumers will vote with their wallets in that regard.
The future lies in companies finding the intersection between their business model and doing what is good for the world. There is a sweet spot to be found of enlightened self-interest which represents a win for businesses and their customers alike.
I am always drawn to the notion of custodianship whereby we all need to leave things in a better state than we find them. It is inherent to many of the best sporting teams in the world that have enjoyed long-term success, such as the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team. Players within such teams are humble enough to realise that their ownership of the jersey is only temporary and that the longer-term health and success of the team is far more important. From my point of view this bears a striking similarity to responsible long-term brand management.
And if you needed any further encouragement, another key benefit of taking a more socially responsible approach is to ensure access to the best talent. People today are more discerning about the careers they are open to and will increasingly seek out industries that do good things in the world.
The concept of a triple bottom line is here to stay: People, Profit, Planet.