Even the best intentions can be washed out by brand purpose ubiquity

—With so many brands embracing brand purpose, Craig Redmond wonders if the average consumer is paying attention any more—

What do hemorrhoids and purpose-driven marketing ads have in common? Every ass produces one eventually.

Sorry. That’s the bitterly unsweetened iced Americano talking. Or maybe just in part. Because the truth is, there’s a growing number of us who are becoming increasingly skeptical about what is no longer a trend in our industry, but has become the overbearing norm.

Rest assured, nobody was beating the drum louder than I was four years ago. But now you can’t change the channel, skip the banner ad or turn the awards book page without bumping into the next altruistic brand anthem. And, seemingly, more and more of it is inspired by profit instead of true purpose.

So, after seeing this epic effort from washing detergent Vanish, I decided to go through its website closet in search of some dirty laundry. But to my unexpectedly disarming surprise, and its immense credit, I discovered that the brand truly is invested corporately in reducing fashion waste. Even going so far as to partner with Oxwash, a London-based company that delivers your net zero washing to your door using zero emission electric bicycles.

But here’s the problem.

Joe and Jane Blow, reclining in their La-Z-Boys and hoovering the Cheetos dust from their orange-crusted fingers during a Love Island commercial break, aren’t going to do the investigative scrub that I did. They’re going to watch this ad and say to themselves, “Piss off. You just want us to buy more of your pink soap detergent.”

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of brands, just like Vanish, that are doing some wonderful soul-searching to unearth their core truth. The genuine reinvestment they are making toward social capitalism is to be admired, and the consumer loyalty they gather for that commitment is rightfully earned.

But when every brand in the alphabet, from Amazon to Ziploc, is carpet-bombing media and proclaiming its newfound virtue from on high, it just starts to become white noise for Jane and Joe Blow, and a giant, swelling pain in the ass for our industry.

Which is a shame. A painful shame that is probably in need of an industrial size dose of Preparation H In my humblest opinion.

 Vanishing Point

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