Finn on Purpose: Diesel and McVities tackle social isolation


14th January, 2019

Brand purpose is a topic on the minds of every marketeer nowadays. We all know what it is and we all know how wrong it can go if it isn’t executed properly. So, we’ve decided to start a blog that documents good examples of purpose led campaigns as well as the bad…

First up, the bad. In September 2018 fashion brand Diesel launched a campaign called HA’u’TE Couture. The campaign saw various celebrities collaborate with the brand to create their own t-shirts, which also unashamedly displayed the worst online abuse they’d ever received. A portion of all sales are donated to anti-bullying foundation Only the Brave, so this campaign had real potential to flourish.

Unfortunately, Diesel’s choice of Nicki Minaj as one of the endorsers tainted the good that this campaign was doing. The fact that she was chosen to endorse an anti-bullying campaign ruffled a few feathers as she is a notorious online bully, even recently having a journalist intern sacked for writing respectful criticism online. Are these the actions of an advocate for an anti-bullying campaign? I don’t think so.

People online didn’t think so either and just by choosing one celebrity influencer whose credentials didn’t quite match HA’u’TE Couture’s key message, the power and potential of the campaign was overshadowed. The brand faced a barrage of criticism with many people questioning the authenticity of its actions- are they a brand that doesn’t care about people being bullied?

Probably not, but the campaigns inconsistent messaging through Minaj’s endorsement obscured the good that it was doing and made it seem that way. That’s why it’s imperative that every single aspect of a purpose-driven campaign works in unison and truly aligns with its core messaging. It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch.

One brand that did see success through its purpose driven campaign was biscuit brand McVities. ‘Sweeter Together’ focuses on the issue of loneliness as the brand looks to embed itself in modern culture.

The campaign includes a 60 second animated advert that sees a lonely crane operator trying to connect with his colleagues working on the ground below him. Despite his best efforts he is ignored but when he receives a cup of tea and McVities biscuit sent up on an iron beam he feels connected. The ad ends with the tag line “Sometimes the little things are actually the really big things”. The brand has explained that the campaign aims to tap into societal issues around loneliness and how, despite having lots of digital connections, people can feel isolated from each other.

Despite not being directly partnered with a charity for this campaign it still works very well. It feels authentic because biscuits do bring people together.

The act of giving someone a cuppa and a biscuit shows you care. It shows that you’re thinking about the other person, so this is a very fitting area for McVities to explore. The ad is relatable and it’s this element which makes it so powerful because it evokes feelings of empathy. The same can’t be said of the Diesel campaign.  Why would people believe in an anti-bullying campaign and empathise with it if the key advocate it’s personified by embodies the problem it’s trying to eradicate. They won’t.

All in all, it’s clear from these examples that brands need to make sure every part of the campaign aligns with its message because otherwise it’s likely that it will lose its impact, as Diesel saw.

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