Saluting a fishy purpose marketing initiative

—In this week’s edition of The Redmond Review, Craig Redmond ponders two vastly different purpose-driven marketing campaigns, and explains why he sides with the fishes.—

Deciphering the difference between an altruistic brand angle devised purely for the purpose of marketing and a genuine purpose-driven brand strategy can be a tricky bit of teeter-tottering.

Consider these two videos commemorating projects of purpose, championed by two comparably “back-of-the-cupboard” commodity products.

One literally begins with a gratuitous pack shot. The other begins by deferentially acknowledging a globally cataclysmic crisis.

One quickly introduces appetizing product imagery, accompanied by another conveniently placed—and perfectly lit—pack shot. The other introduces a real-world initiative that could deliver tangible solutions for the future.

One ends with more beauty shots, a nice “bite and smile” enjoyment moment, an extended logo sign-off and a tenuous brand affiliation to a cause that dovetails nicely with the brand tagline. The other ends with a true message of hope, literally constructed out of the fruits of their actual labour, followed by a gentle brand request to support their cause by sharing the film.

Both utilize a purpose-driven strategy. But one feels like a brand that’s marketing, while the other feels like a brand with purpose.

Yum Foods’ CMO Ken Muench recently called “bullshit” on any kind of purpose-driven marketing, and asked the hilariously simple question of whether a consumer could seriously have an emotional connection with their toaster.

Muench wasn’t questioning the imperative for brands to find their core purpose and support it with every strand of their corporate DNA. He simply questioned the motive and merit of publicly flaunting it to consumers.

And it’s the same here.

By no means do I want to diminish the invaluable importance of foster parenting in comparison to coral reef restoration. I’m simply pondering the sincerity of one marketer’s allegiance over the other. Fish need coral. Cats like fish. More coral means more fish for cats.

So, I teeter towards Sheba Cat Food.

Craig Redmond is a creative leader with Palmer Stamnes and Co, an independent family of marketing communication companies.