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Managing Marketing: Building Purpose Inside The Business

Diane Primo

Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 Founder and Global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Diane Primo is the CEO of Purpose Brand Agency, an award-winning, Chicago-based public relations, branding and digital marketing firm. She is also the author of ADAPT: Scaling Purpose in a Diversive World. Diane’s focus on impact marketing stems from the belief that brands must be relevant, purpose-driven and committed to consumers to be successful today. Consumers’ demand for meaning, transparency and authenticity has changed the nature of and raised the stakes in interactions with an organisation and she shares how that can be achieved.

You can listen to the podcast here:

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Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing, a weekly podcast where we discuss the issues and opportunities facing marketing, media and advertising with industry thought leaders and practitioners.

Today, I’m sitting with Diane Primo, the CEO of Purpose Brand Agency, an award-winning Chicago-based public relations, branding and digital marketing firm.

Now, Diane’s focus on impact marketing stems from the belief that brands must be relevant, purpose-driven, and committed to consumers to be successful today because consumers have a demand for meaning, transparency, and authenticity that’s changed the nature of, and raised the stakes in all communications. Welcome, Diane.

Diane:

Oh, thank you. Hi Darren. Nice to be here. Nice to talk to everyone today.

Darren:

Diane, the reason I was so keen, so interested in having this conversation was this concept of transparency and authenticity in communications, because we see a lot of discussion about this, but not necessarily always action or execution in this area, especially in the, what do they call it? The post-truth world that we live in?

Diane:

Oh yes, totally.

Darren:

Do you think the post-truth world is driving this need? The fact that so many things that we rely on are now questionable.

Diane:

In truth, I think there’s always been a post-truth world. I think that everyone has always wanted to hear the truth. I can’t imagine that someone would say, or a consumer would say, “Oh, don’t tell me the truth.” I just think that technology has enabled it, and has really driven a demand for it.

So, this idea of having this mobile platform in my hand, this mobile microphone in my hand, has connected people in an unusual way where they can discover the truth on their own. And as a result of discovering the truth, they’re more than willing to out people who are not telling the truth. So, in that sense, it’s been there. Technology has enabled it.

And as it relates to that, this idea of tell me the truth, be transparent, be authentic has become a part of it, a real part of it, and a demand. And so, it really means that no company can escape that which is fascinating.

Darren:

Yeah, it’s interesting, isn’t it? Because for at least 50 years, companies and brands have been able to use paid advertising to pretty much put their message out there in the way they want without really being challenged. And that, as you say, has fundamentally changed because of social media and technology, hasn’t it?

Diane:

Absolutely, there’s been a real shift in power. It’s gone from the brands who are able to push messages out to them under the guise of a pull strategy, push messages out to them — to one where the consumer is absolutely in control now. And any brand who doesn’t believe that I think is sadly mistaken.

So, from a marketing standpoint, we have to really recognize that. And so, what we’re really looking for is them to engage with us, for them to embrace us as we market, and do it because we really are relevant. This idea of relevancy has never been more important. You can achieve relevancy in several ways.

Relevancy might be connected to how much I’m used, relevancy might be connected to what my real passions are, as a consumer, what I really care about, and are you really connecting into that? Do you really understand what I care about? And are you honouring that in the marketplace?

So, the world has become far more complex for us because when you look at … look at how many individuals there are in the U.S. And if they all have the power, then they’re going to come at you at every which way, but it also means the bottom line, that anything you say and how you say it, you have to really be thoughtful of that because they will come back and have something to say about it.

So, navigating this communication world has really become different and unique for marketers.

Darren:

And it’s interesting that this is also driven, and perhaps because of relevancy, this need for organizations to really articulate the purpose, to answer that question: why do you exist? And probably more important, why do you exist in my life?

Diane:

Exactly. And it better not be for just the dollar. We understand that companies want to make dollars, but we want them to be doing something more than just kind of pushing the green and literally pushing the green. And so, consumers have really evolved their expectations around what they expect a business to do, and what they expect business to be stewards of, and literally stewards of.

And if you step back and look at that, they’re almost requiring you to be stewards of culture. And culture is a word that’s thrown around a lot, but if you start unbundling it and what it really means, and looking at what they care about from a cultural standpoint, what you see is you see that they care more about our ability to give back sustainability, social justice than they do around technology, fashion, professional sports brands.

And for me, video games, they hear more about it than video games. That to me is really amazing. That’s a major shift in consumer thought and consumer behaviour as well as what we had 10 years ago or 20 years ago. Clearly, the younger generation is driving it, but it’s becoming really required by all generations because the younger generation is very tightly connected to the older generation now.

And so, they’re influencers of that. What do we want to see happen? How happy are we about the changes? And from a parent standpoint, you’re like, “Oh, I want my kids to live in a better world.” So, what they are supporting, we’re embracing because we see the future and the future does not look as rosy as it did 30 years ago.

Darren:

So, it’s interesting you bring up generational connection because what are the Baby Boomers that gave us the eighties when greed was good? And also, the ones at the moment that are driving the wealth acquisition for their retirement, and to go to your point about pushing green, this is … so it is a generation that had a major impact for the last 50 years. But it’s interesting how now, the Millennials and Gen X and the next generation are really redefining what’s important, aren’t they?

Diane:

Oh, they are. And I think part of it, is you mentioned the Baby Boomers; what happened to the Baby Boomers? They had children, lots of them. So, they had children and they sort of cuddled those children and they really helped them grow, mentally grow. And in our generation, that Baby Boomer generation was about helping their kids look at the world differently, expanding their view.

And as a result, those kids have leaned in and they understand what’s going on in one country versus the next. They have leaned into social justice (this is wrong, this is right). The Millennials are the most multicultural generation there was in decades. And the most diverse generation we’ve ever had.

So, what we’re seeing, is we’re seeing this sort of convergence of caring, passion, of concern about the world and everyone’s future. Parents are concerned about their kids’ future. Kids are concerned about their future, and they’re not willing to stand aside and let it happen on its own. They really do want to have some involvement, they want people to lean into it, and they want companies to be more responsible. They want them to stand up and do what’s right.

And those are also the people who are walking into a company’s office right now, too. And they’re working there, Darren.

Darren:

Exactly. They’ll be your boss tomorrow.

Diane:

Exactly. They will be your boss tomorrow.

Darren:

Diane, the thing is though, a lot of the issues that you raised before around Black Lives Matter, diversity, the environment, there’s still an incredible amount of diverseness. There’s a lot of opposition, and a lot of these issues are being manipulated to “them” and “us.”

Diane:

Right, exactly.

Darren:

I can imagine if you’re playing only in that area and doing it to be relevant to your market becomes very dangerous because you could end up looking like you’re blowing in the wind. How does an organization really get to what are the issues that are important and what are the ones that we should be supporting, and how should we be supporting them?

Because I think, to your point about consumers wanting authenticity, the last thing they want is brands that are just jumping in and sort of jumping on a bandwagon, don’t they?

Diane:

I think I totally agree with that. The first thing I would say for a company is look at your employees. They are your spokespeople for purpose, but they also help you put purpose into action. So, you can judge a lot by understanding what your employees want, what their passions are, and what they value. You need as a company to make sure you align with their values.

In turn, you need to also look at what your client’s values are and how they feel and what they think as well. And there needs to be this incredible alignment that happens between a company and their employees and their other stakeholders.

Now, what’s interesting about all of this is if you look at an employee as an owned asset, as opposed to someone’s on loan to you, because they are a loan, your point of view is much different. They really are the public. They represent the public. And as a result, if your values are misaligned with theirs, now, they will activate the walkout on you; Google’s had walkouts, and Amazon has had walkouts. They’ve almost closed businesses down. They’ll boycott out on you.

So, it is a very interesting world and it is very, very divisive. But my advice is, understand your purpose, understand what your values are, and then stay aligned with that. And you’ve got people like Chick-fil-A, that’s very right wing. They stay aligned with the values. So, right wing values, and people still shop there, but they are on point for those values. And then you have others that believe in other things.

I mean, look at the companies that came out during Roe v. Wade; many of those that you would say, okay, Ben & Jerry’s, no surprise, they’re activists at their heart. Unilever came out during this time. I think Levi Strauss came out, all behind gun violence, et cetera — OkCupid really in the forefront at this point.

Kudos to OkCupid. If you look at what they’re doing in terms of the diversity they’re showing and how they’re showing it, how they’re understanding LGBTQ+ rights, I mean really amazing what’s going on right now. You know, just kind of hats off, kudos off to them that they stepped out and said, “I’m going to step out here and do this.”

So, I’m saying first, stay aligned with their values. The second thing that you need to look at is that, is this a fundamental right? Are you not going to speak up for fundamental rights? What might that be? The whole voting issue that was throughout America, that was big. Can any company really afford to sit back and not support voting equally everywhere with no constraints?

I mean, honestly, who’s going to sit back and do that? Now, I know companies did. Like they’re like, “Whoa, do I get out around this?” And then they got smacked, like literally smacked by the population all around them where they eventually had to speak out.

So, my advice is don’t clench; look and say, “Does this align with my values?” That’s number one. Number two, the second litmus test is, is this a fundamental right? And if it’s a fundamental right, why wouldn’t you speak out up on it.

Darren:

Absolutely. What I love about that, Diane, and was the starting point, which is align with your employees, because if you’ve got a really good HR recruitment process, you’ll be attracting people that instinctively are aligned to the values that the company represents. Because people are attracted to working for organizations that have choice.

And they choose to work for places that they feel … they want to be proud when they’re at a barbecue on the weekend, and someone says, “Where are you working?” Well, I’m working for such and such. And they want to feel proud of that.

I know because we’ve done in the past work with tobacco companies, and they feel like second class citizens. One woman said to me “When I’m at a dinner party and people ask me what I do, I say marketing. And then they say, ‘Oh, what do you market?’” And she goes … and covers their mouth and sort of mumbles into a red wine hoping that they’ll move on to the next person. So, yeah, this is such a powerful thing.

Then the second part is the clients, because you attract clients not just based on price — yeah, this idea that everything’s rational; we know human beings aren’t rational, we’re emotional. And so, I love that as a starting point of working out if you can’t articulate what you stand for, ask your employees and ask your clients, they’ll tell you.

Diane:

Absolutely. And they will tell you, and they’ll also tell you something else; they’ll tell you what you’re best at, because the trick about purpose is to understand what you are best at and better than anyone else at. And if you understand that, then you can harness that superpower, because it is a superpower and use it to do good in the world.

And so, a great example of this — and I love to use BlackRock because BlackRock is to me, classic; elitist, trillions of dollars in assets under management, super wealth. But they figured out, you know what I’m really good at? I’m really good at finance. And so, my purpose is to really improve the financial wellbeing of others.

Now, what they did with that was miraculous because they leaned in much harder and much more aggressively into purpose. In like 2019 where the CEO wrote a letter to all of their clients and said, “This is real and it’s meaningful from a long-term financial standpoint.” That was a big wakeup call in the industry.

Then I think for the last year, they’ve really leaned into ESG, which is environmental, social, and governance programs. They’ve leaned into it in a huge sort of impactful way where they’re holding boards and CEOs responsible, and they are in their own way activating companies to participate and actually driving value. And so, you look at that and you think about that. You’re like, “Wow, that is really something that is huge that’s happened in the marketplace.”

Darren:

And look, you just reminded me because so often, you see these ridiculous dichotomy arguments of, well, it has to be purpose rather than profit, or it has to be profit first rather than purpose. The fact is that the two go hand in hand.

I think I just saw from P&G, the head brand, what’s his name? Marc Pritchard says, “Well, you have to be profitable to do good in business.” Of course, that makes sense. But it also reframed all of those ridiculous arguments that you have to put profit first to do good. The two actually go hand in hand-

Diane:

Go hand in hand.

Darren:

It’s not well, let’s do really bad things because they’re hugely profitable now, so that we can do good later. It’s actually build the two. And I think your example with BlackRock proofs that.

Diane:

Oh yeah, and what’s really interesting about this, is I actually do feel that they get it right. And you just think about it for a second. If you go against culture, go against social justice, you go against health rights, et cetera, what happens is disruption, uncertainty.

We saw that during COVID, we saw that during the Black Lives, George Floyd period. Like boycotts, people crashing windows. We see it during war time. Think about it. It creates economic chaos, so to speak. That’s not good for business.

So, what we’re talking about is we’re talking about long-term sustainability and that’s what enables long-term returns from a financial standpoint. Very, very, very, very important. I think you hit the nail on the head, so to speak.

Darren:

Yeah, and the other thing that I’ve noticed is that organizations that have purpose at the core, and I mean this as a business strategy, then often the transition into marketing can either be smooth or it can be bumpy.

And I wonder if sometimes marketers struggle with understanding the role of purpose in actually marketing and positioning and selling their product in the marketplace. Do you see that same sort of conundrum arising occasionally?

Diane:

I think you’re right. And this is why I believe that; either a company is truly purpose-driven at their core, which means that they have taken it from an executional standpoint, they’ve figured out how to operationalize it.

You know this, Darren, but for the audience out there, I wrote a book called ADAPT: Scaling Purpose in a Divisive World. And in that, I laid out a framework that I had gleaned from talking to like 15 leaders, Fortune 500 leaders and other people I had worked with.

But ADAPT actually stands for something. A is for assessment, D is for the definition phase, A is for amplification, P is for performance, and T is for transcendence.

But what that is, it’s a framework for what you actually do when you go through and you execute purpose within your organization. There’s always assessments phase, you’re always reflecting. You’re kind of researching here, let me kind of think about what my employees are thinking about, let me look at my stakeholders, et cetera. And let me kind of look at me and who I am.

Then you’re ready to define that purpose. But definition is not about the statement. It’s about how do I create an organization that has the operational discipline to implement that. And unless they are clear on that, the marketing people will be unclear. And there are two things that go on in marketing regard to this.

If you’ve got a company that has great clarity around purpose, like the Unilevers of the world, or the P&Gs of the world or the BlackRocks of the world or the Patagonias of the world – if they have great clarity, the marketing people have great clarity.

And in fact, they probably have put forth a framework around how do I take purpose and apply it to a brand. And how do I take that framework and apply it to how I position my brand in the marketplace.

Great. Examples of this are Dove think about that. Regardless of what I look like-

Darren:

Natural beauty-

Diane:

Confidence in my brand. Always another great example of that goes beyond that confidence anywhere. Patagonia, I’m going to save the planet. I love theirs. And I’m going to do advertisements during Black Friday (this is my favorite). Like don’t buy this jacket because the ultimate sustainability is non-consumption. So, to be bold enough for the marketing team to go out and say, “Hey, don’t buy this. That’s pretty wild.”

So, when a company is clear on purpose, you get a very tight connection between if it’s multiple brands, what their multiple brands do, or their one brand does to uplift that. If they’re unclear, what you see is a lot of ad hoc cause marketing things that will get them in trouble.

There’s some famous examples of that. People going up to the militia, the military and saying, “Yep, I’m going to solve this really quickly,” and a huge backlash.

Darren:

And consumers quickly pick that up as soon as something doesn’t resonate. And I think what you described and what ADAPT — you take people through in the book, is not a quick process because it requires really deep thinking and reflection and investigation of what do we actually stand for, and how do we … not just what do we stand for; how do we execute? How do we demonstrate that?

It’s like I remember that my mother once said to me, “Look, someone can tell you they love you a hundred times. But when they do one thing because of love, that is worth a thousand times being told you’re loved.” And it’s the same here, isn’t it?

Diane:

Absolutely. And so, I want to add to that point. Purpose really needs to be thought about as experiential. People don’t really think about that. You just said it, it’s experiential. And because of that, I think I saw this statistics somewhere that only 12% of the brands that say they’re purpose-related are really remembered for that. It’s because they don’t think about how consumers can experience.

And so, experience is what happens when your employee’s to the consumer, experience is how do you market to them. Experience is how do you communicate it? And it’s not just like, “Here’s a statement,” it’s communicated everywhere and they’re checking for that.

So, what is that purpose experience? What is the purpose identity that you are building with that consumer that will stick? And we know the companies that have made it stick and the benefits that it has, meaning that people want to work for them. Why do I want to work for you? “Oh, because you really do get sustainability, et cetera. I like what you’re doing. This feels like the right place to work because I’m just not working for your dollars, I’m working for something bigger than that.”

Darren:

Yeah, bigger vision.

Diane:

Every human being wants to be something bigger than that. Look at Kroger’s purpose. Kroger’s purpose is to feed the human spirit. It’s a wow. It’s like, well, I got sign up for that. I get that. I call is soul food, Darren, I call it soul food.

Darren:

Absolutely. And then the next question is how does that actually fall on the experience of the people in that brand?

That’s other thing, is I’ve seen there are people that put out these fabulous purpose statements. Jim Collins in Built to Last would call it a big, hairy, audacious goal, a BHAG. And yet, they’re not even close to actually living up to that experience.

I think a lot of greenwashing is that type of thing. We want to be green and we’ll tell you we are, but we are still pumping millions of barrels of oil out of the ground at the moment. But one day, we’ll be green.

Diane:

And I agree with that, but don’t get me wrong, I think goals and objectives are good because all of this is really, really hard work. When you say net zero carbon, that’s going to happen like that. But where’s your plan and what are your goals and objectives for getting there and are you making it? Like Unilever had their 10-year plan. They did not make all of their goals, and I think the CEO said this, “But we were better for the effort” because it’s true. And I want to give people credit for that.

Darren:

So, BHAGs are great. Having the lighthouse on the hill that you’re aiming for is great because it brings your employees together, it brings your suppliers. Everyone can align to achieve those goals. The danger is when you put it to marketing and particularly advertising, and say “We’re on the hill,” no, we’re not on the hill, but we’re getting there. That’s where we’re aiming for.

Diane:

We’re getting there.

Darren:

And to your point around authenticity is saying exactly what the CEO said; “We didn’t quite get there, but it’s made us infinitely better than we were yesterday.”

Diane:

Yes, and that’s an honest-

Darren:

And people were aware of that.

Diane:

But people are like, great. You know, that’s an honest statement. Don’t lie, don’t hide, full disclosure: “I had goals, I didn’t make them. I really tried and I was almost there. But I made the world better for trying.” I mean, how great is that?

I mean, that’s just like anybody can embrace that because they’ll just say, “Oh yeah, you did.” It’s not like you made 10%, like you almost got there. You really did give it your all, and we’re still trying to do it. And that’s what people are looking for. People are looking for companies that are willing to lean in and give it their all to try to make it happen.

They understand, they’re not stupid. They understand that companies are in the business to make money. They get it, totally get it. But they also believe (and our research says this) — they also believe that companies can be purpose-driven and that some really do want to do the right thing. And the two for them go hand in hand, but they’re not dumb.

They also know you’re in there for the money, but the money allows you to do more and more things and to create more and more good. If you’re going to fall off your financial wagon, et cetera, you’re going to have some activist show up in your board and do all kinds of things to try to get you to be short-term again, and that you want to embrace as well and say, “No, I am in the business to make money, but I am in the business to do good.”

Darren:

Yeah, there’s a quote that … and I can’t remember where I read it, but it said profit is to companies what breathing is to human beings, in that companies need to make profits to exist just as people need to breathe to live. But you don’t breathe purely to-

Diane:

No, you don’t.

Darren:

The reason I get up in the morning is not so I can breathe for the rest of the day.

Diane:

You got it. And it’s also how you breathe. Are there blockages? Am I on a ventilator?

Darren:

Yeah, yeah, true.

Diane:

That kind of thing. Let’s kind of add those other metaphors to it as well.

Darren:

Exactly. We could extend that. I love a good metaphor, so we could extend that for the rest of the day.

Diane:

I mean, one of the things that I tell clients and people is that the purpose of business is to be a business of purpose. And I really do believe that. I mean, that is a business’s why for me, for them to be a business of purpose.

Now, they need to make money, but they also need to understand that they are a part of the world and they’re responsible for that world. And if they act differently, they will wind up affecting their ability to make profits because there will be this massive disruption that will happen. And they themselves, as a company, will be at risk.

And I think that many people don’t understand that companies have a much higher risk profile today than they’ve ever had be before in my mind.

Darren:

Have you ever come across a client, a company that’s come to you and said, “We’ve tried really hard, but we can’t find a purpose? We just don’t have a purpose.”

Diane:

I’ve had companies come to me and say, “Help me define my purpose,” but they’ve never actually said they’ve tried and couldn’t find one. So, that’s an interesting question. You might ask your audience that. Have they actually-

Darren:

Well, I have had that conversation.

Diane:

Oh, wow. And what did they say?

Darren:

Well, it went along the lines of “Well, yeah, we looked at purpose, but we’re an insurance company. We sell insurance.”

Diane:

Oh, got it.

Darren:

And what I realized was in the conversation, they were trying to find a purpose that somehow gave them a competitive edge.

Diane:

Well, I think purpose can give you a competitive edge. If you look at-

Darren:

Except that they wanted to be different and I said, “You can be distinctive and not different.”

Diane:

You know, here’s what I would say about that. I think that’s probably right, but I think it does give you in the end, a competitive edge, because think about all the things that we just talked about. Greater attraction by employees, you’re attracted at a higher level by consumers, there’s long-term financial benefit. Those are all things that speak to if you do it right, a competitive advantage.

Darren:

Sorry, Diane, I meant that they were talking competitive as in the marketplace positioning. Like it absolutely gives you a competitive business advantage, but they were very much talking about the way we’re seen in the marketplace. It was very much around virtue status — and this is where I guess my cynicism comes up when people start using purpose as somehow a virtue signal rather than an actual core business strategy.

Diane:

Yeah, it is a core business strategy because what you want to think about … I think the old world was about brand positioning, I think the new world is really about purpose positioning. When you look at brands like Dove and P&G brands and even Dial, their old Dial brand, they are actually positioning around purpose. That’s really what they’re doing.

If you were thinking of purpose as simply being, “Oh, it’s solely about sustainability,” it’s not, that’s part of the story. Purpose is about improving the world in some way. If you think about that, there are lots of problems in the world to be solved, tons.

Let me give you an example, is that we’re working on a really cool product today and it’s called Cooler Screens. And Cooler Screens is an AI IoT-enabled product that happens at the grocery store level. And there’re literally screens that look like giant iPhones that are in front of the refrigerator on the cooler aisle. But they have planograms that come up, they have nutritional information. They share advertising.

If you think about that, and the reason I love this product so much is because 87% of sales are at retail, but retail is roughly a 1 to 3% margin business for grocery, for drug, and for convenience stores. They have been on life support, many of them, particularly in disadvantaged neighborhoods for years. And that’s kind of what’s caused food deserts, et cetera.

In the online world, they’ve always had advertising that they can fall back on. So, nobody wanted advertising, so they all went from their freemium models to now, embedding advertising. So, now, Facebook advertises, Amazon advertises, but that’s what’s made them profitable.

Physical retail stores have never had that opportunity. So, what this company is doing is they’ve created a media and analytics platform that is literally connecting all of those retailers where they will be able to advertise. That’s really powerful.

But think about the benefit that that will do for society. It’s huge because suddenly, I’ve given these companies the financial wherewithal to go into neighborhoods that on the surface, don’t look great, but everybody needs some place to shop. The thin margin business that are there because they can’t afford everything, suddenly, they’ve got better margins to be more places in more hard to reach communities.

So, everybody ultimately, if you think about it has a purpose. It’s just a matter of you defining it and leaning into it and then moving with it.

I mean another brand I love is I love Lyft and everything they’re thinking about in terms of purpose around that worker, that driver and how they’re really thinking about it. So, hope that wasn’t too much, Darren.

Darren:

No, not at all, not at all, because I think that’s the point, is that this is never, the purpose is never something that you can buy off the shelf and just bolt onto your business. It’s never something that you just “Oh, well, we’ll just have a bit of that purpose over there” because it needs to have meaning to the very start of this conversation. It cannot have meaning unless it’s based on a solid foundation of what the business is.

There needs to be transparency. The consumer needs to be able to see your business from any direction, and it holds up, and that’s really what authenticity — and I’d even throw … I think the other word is integrity from the point of view of it needs to be a hundred per cent whole. It needs to be a hundred per cent of the business. You can’t have a little bit of purpose here and none over there, it has to have integrity within the organization.

Diane:

Now, here’s a company that I think has incredible integrity. Look at Microsoft and what they did. So, I think this topic of Gates and sexual harassment came up from a company standpoint. Satya, the CEO basically stood up and said, “I’m going to go through all of our history on this. I’m going to have a third party do it, then I’m going to disclose it.”

Who does that? Now, you and I both know there are going to be some things, but that is a company that has very high integrity. Like I’m going to out these problems and I’m going to fix them. And so, as they acquire Activision, like they better get ready because there’s a new sheriff in town and he is going to be all over getting this done right.

Darren:

And look, I think that’s so important is an acknowledgement of things that have gone in the past. In some ways, you can’t move forward until you’ve cleaned up the past. And a lot of people just want history to be history.

And that applies not just a business, it’s cultures, it’s countries, it’s all sorts of things that until you get that acknowledgement that we did the wrong thing in the past, you can never ask forgiveness.

Diane:

Absolutely. So, I worked for Quaker Oats for 10 years, and at that point, they owned the Aunt Jemima brand, that’s a great one to pick on. Everybody was like hiding their face. Like, “Oh my gosh,” especially if you were a person of colour: “How could we possibly have this brand? And isn’t this kind of racist with the Aunt Jemima on it.” But everyone talked about it, but the company wasn’t willing to do anything.

This now, is a moment where people are faced with what they have to do right because people are demanding it. And look at the George Floyd protest movement. And then look at the number of brands that basically came clean.

Redskins went away, Yale looked at changing building names. Princeton looked at changing building names. Aunt Jemima became Pearl, and Eskimo Pie had to re-look at themselves. But at that moment, it was about self-assessment and self-reflection, which every company must do all the time. And they said, “Let me acknowledge what I have done, how I have done it. And now, let me act.”

And what consumers are looking for more than anything else is authentic action. They gain more publicity during that moment of doing what’s right than they probably have done the last 10 years on the brand. It was everywhere, right?

Darren:

Yeah, absolutely. Look Diane, this has been a fabulous conversation, and I wish I could extend it, but unfortunately, we’ve run out of time. Your book is only recently out, isn’t it? ADAPT. I’m going to go straight from this to Amazon and order my copy because I cannot wait to read it.

And I think it sounds like exactly the type of thing marketers are struggling with: how does purpose fit into our brand, market, and business? Have we got the base right for us to be able to extend out? So, I want to acknowledge you for writing this book. It sounds amazing.

Diane:

Thank you, Darren. It’s been so much fun talking to you today as well. So, a pleasure.

Darren:

Look, there is a question I want to ask, and that is, of all the brands out there, is there one that you see has huge potential for embracing purpose? Who would it be?

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    Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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