Grubby Glastonbury is a metaphor for the confusion of Brand Purpose

by Richard Rawlins

2nd July, 2019

1m plastic bottles were saved from the planet last weekend after Glastonbury Festival banned their sale.

The other big statistic from the weekend is that it will take 6 weeks to clean-up the site.

50,000 people cheered Sir David Attenborough and his brilliant ability to unite the planet in the war on plastic.  Then they casually dropped their rubbish on the floor and left their tents for someone else to clean up.

We all agree that we are facing a climate change emergency, and we love and admire people like Sir David who are prepared to do something about it.  But what about actual action?

It’s the same in the world of brand communications.  So many brands are searching for purpose, yet what they sometimes mean is they want to look cool.  They want to be at Glastonbury cheering Sir David, but someone else can pick up the litter.

Purpose is not an advertising fig leaf.   It requires action.  As we help clients navigate a world in which their brands are expected to contribute more to the planet than their traditional reasons for existence (convenience, taste, jobs, profit), our first job is to be critical friends.  Our first task is to ask the awkward question, “What are you actually doing?”  People expect brands to be at the party and pick up the litter too.

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