I recently participated in a discussion with our agency and clients where we revealed some of the key themes at this year’s Cannes Lion Awards. Near the end of the Q&A, someone in the audience asked if the cause-related work they won produced any ROI, or if they were created just for the awards.
Hope Reef is part of a new project for the regrowth of coral reefs and recently won several awards at the Cannes Lions 2022. Pet food started by Sheba.
Of course, it’s easy to see how one might jump to that conclusion when Grand Prix-winning campaigns never mention a company’s product or service. Instead, only two Grand Prix were awarded for reason and purpose-led leadership.
Now, in years past, cause-related, or charity-based campaigns, were often seen as low-hanging fruit by advertising agencies. As a result, many have taken up pro-bono accounts to increase their chances of winning iron.
Of course, 30 years ago, things got out of hand, with a group of frustrated creatives asking ‘Here’s my dead dog, where’s my prize?’ He ran an ad with a gruesome image.
Award shows quickly took note and changed the rules. But in a blatantly funny show, not before the ‘Dead Dog’ ad won several awards around the world.
In the case of corporations, however, little attention has been paid to causality. CSR was only a small part of their annual marketing budget, and the cause closest to their hearts was solving their own business problems rather than the problems of the world.
The narrative is turned on its head
Fast forward to the past few years, and that narrative has been completely flipped on its head.
Corporations large and small are now embedding marketing and sustainability programs into their DNA.
More and more businesses are realizing that doing well is, indeed, good business. And there’s been plenty of research to back it up.
In one study, a large group of charities saw an average increase in revenue of 11 percent, while their non-charitable competitors saw a 3 percent decrease over the same period.
They also found that 6 out of 10 people are willing to pay more for a good value product or service from a charity.
Another study found that 36% of customers end their relationship with a company because of unethical behavior, and a company that engages in social issues motivates them to become customers.
It can’t be too bad, can it?
In short, companies that add value to their customers’ lives beyond the features of their products or services will outperform others.
As the Innovation Award shows, fatigue of purpose can set in over time. Who knows, we might even see a comic return. Think about it.
But, chances are, campaigns created for the good of the world will continue to win, as long as they do well for the brands they create. And that can’t be too bad, can it?