“Greenwashing” has been happening since the 1980s, and now we are in the age of “woke-washing.” In this era of transparency, brands that don’t walk the talk of their positioning or commitments do so at their own risk.
Speaking at the 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Unilever CEO Alan Jope said, “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.
“However, purposeful marketing is at an important crossroads. Woke-washing is beginning to infect our industry. It’s polluting purpose. It’s putting in peril the very thing which offers us the opportunity to help tackle many of the world’s issues. What’s more, it threatens to further destroy trust in our industry, when it’s already in short supply.”
“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,” Jope added.
Jope noted that consumers are rapidly shifting towards “brands that ‘get it’ and embrace a role in society that goes well beyond what they sell,” noting:
- 64% of global consumers say they choose brands because of their stand on social issues
- 91% of millennials would switch brands for one which champions a cause
- Brands recognized for their strong commitment to purpose have grown twice the rate of others over the last 12 years
- Greenwashing has been happening since the 1980s, and now we are in the age of “woke-washing.”
Photo: Karina Tess via Unsplash