Key Takeouts: Advertising Week: Purpose and Profit: What It Takes to Deliver Both

May 19, 2022

The World Media Group hosted a lively discussion at Advertising Week Europe yesterday around how Purpose can drive business transformation and profits. Duncan Chater, Managing Director, Europe at Bloomberg Media chaired a panel featuring Sue Unerman, Chief Transformation Officer, MediaCom; John Rudaizky, Partner, Global Brand and Marketing, EY; and Louisa Harris, Head of Sustainability and Systems Change, Brandpie.

Chater opened up the conversation by pointing out that while purpose-driven business had been a hot trend to emerge from the pandemic, inflation and energy price rises have recently risen to levels most consumers have not faced before. The discussion centred around how can companies navigate these uncharted waters to deliver continued profit with Purpose. Here are some of the takeouts from the World Media Group’s panel.

  1. In the current climate, sustainability needs to be a consideration of any purposeful business plan. While Purpose isn’t just about sustainability, context is important, and this generation is responsible for making the necessary changes before it’s too late. For a business to have a vital purpose, everyone who’s contributing to it needs to acknowledge that. If a business doesn’t operate in that context, it’s very difficult to get Purpose right.
  2. Organisations need to stop focussing on the competition and how to dominate the marketplace. Instead, we need to acknowledge there are big challenges that we must all face and share. The greatest success may come from moving from a competitive advantage to being a trailblazer and opening up sources to allow for radical collaboration.
  3. A brand is, what a brand does, and Purpose is about what the business does. Any business strategy must be purpose-driven, connecting to your total stakeholder ecosystem. Whether that’s around a D&I strategy or sustainability, your business will be impeded, if you don’t deliver on these things. This is not about conforming to regulations; it’s about seizing new opportunities. Profit will come from doing the right thing in business, not from a sense of compromise.
  4. In 2021, 87% of UK FTSE 350 companies had a Purpose statement in their annual report yet only 9% of them measure their progress against that purpose statement. There needs to be a more integrated conversation between a commercial brand and its sustainability strategy to ensure that short term returns are measured and balanced with the issues the brand is aligned with.
  5. It’s important that, as an industry, we push back against any brands that are telling stories but aren’t living the reality. Partnering with media owners who can represent the groups you are trying to advertise to, and creating content in collaboration with experts who represent your target audience, can make all the difference between making an ad and providing authentic content that delivers real value.
  6. The World Media Group brands need to be held accountable because we have the power to influence people through our audiences and have a responsibility to convey the story of the way we want the world to be. Advertising has always had the privilege of leading the world through the imagery it sets; when it comes to Purpose, we have the opportunity as organisations, and as an industry, to make a real difference.

The full session is available on demand here for Advertising Week Europe attendees.