Brand Purpose – Scotland 0 Sweden 3

Laurence Green, Executive Partner of MullenLowe Group UK, gives his thoughts on brand purpose, and who are leading the way in terms of reaching for the creative multiplier. *Originally posted on More About Advertising (May 2021)

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There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

Hmmm. Oscar Wilde’s colourful declaration was tested to destruction earlier this year by Standard Life Aberdeen’s re-brand as, er, abrdn. (Even spellcheck doesn’t like it. That doesn’t bode well.)

Has the new brand been talked about? Hell, yeah. But immediate sentiment is unfavourable, and it would be understandable if the asset managers from Edinburgh now crave their previous anonymity.

For other brand owners and creative practitioners, however, the principle still holds: that fame is worthwhile, even if its pursuit invites downside risk.

For various reasons, advertising alone these days is rarely talked about, and the prevailing assumption is that brand actions rather than words are more likely to drive talkability in the new era of ‘do’ rather than ‘say’.

That distinction, however, looks increasingly forced. Great brands do what they say and say what they do after all. And the very best reach for the creative multiplier too.

This month, Sweden shows the way…

Oatly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but look beyond the surface froth and the Superbowl spot and you’ll see that the fruits of its ‘Department of Mind Control’ have driven commercially consequential saliency, and pricing power too.

That competitive advantage has now been described as ‘crucial’ in nothing less than Oatly’s IPO prospectus. It’s an open-and-shut case for the creative contribution to brand value, and the value of being talked about.

Progressive Swedish bed-fellows Volvo remain intent on making the world a better place too. Their proud all-electric pledge now comes framed in a commercial that’s lovingly shot by Ivan Zacharias. It takes us to the Arctic Circle for its rug pull, casually cementing Volvo’s safety credentials along the way.

And so to H&M. The fast fashion sector has as long a road to travel as automotive to arrive on the right side of the climate conversation. Meanwhile, however, the One/Second/Suit is here: free 24-hour suit hire to help interviewees make the right first impression. It’s culturally relevant, socially good and – in the hands of Mark Romanek – uncommonly cool.

When brand purpose is worn lightly, it gets talked about too.

MullenLowe Group UK

We work with some of the world's most innovative marketers; clients who think like challengers. And so do we. Our integrated approach involves a communion of our best talent with wit and charisma from every discipline. From brand planning to creative campaign development, customer experience to sustainability and purpose communications, media planning and buying to agile production. This approach ensures we deliver ideas that maximise the opportunity for the brand as a whole, never just one channel. We are part of a global network of distinctive agencies, rich in local culture with both intimacy and scale, providing a full service offering with a depth of resources across the globe in 90+ offices and in 65+ markets.