F#ck your purpose

marketeers see a marketing opportunity in everything.

A little while ago our agency was asked to help design a purpose for a famous FMCG brand. They had let themselves be driven crazy by Herman Toch and his Return on Purpose book and TED talk. The result was extremely predictable: three days of semantic wrestling on a company outing, six months of trying to bring the purpose to life in look and feel and ultimately they arrived at the insight that just maybe they would be better off not using a story of Purpose as a figleaf for selling more SKUs.

That´s why the Dove brand makes me feel so itchy. This whole Real Beauty story of theirs was 100% designed by a clever marketing team. Honestly I have to admit: it was executed so well that it actually built the brand. But be aware that as soon as a new top dog comes in, or whenever their next campaign doesn’t work just as well as the earlier one, this whole purpose story of theirs will be replaced by any strategy that leads to better sales.

Of course they have every right to do what they do, but ultimately it’s so cynical. Sell more soap and cream by selling the outrage at the sick ideals of beauty to the masses out there. While our other brands – including Lux and Andrelon – continue to sell the very same beauty ideals we’re attacking with Dove. It’s a sort of behaviour that reminds me of the legendary rant by Bill Hicks (check it out on YouTube) about how marketeers see a marketing opportunity in everything, right up to the indignation over marketing itself: ¨He´s going for the righteous indignation dollar. That´s a big dollar. A lot of people are feeling that indignation. We’ve done research – huge market. He´s doing a good thing.¨

I can’t get rid of the impression that this explains why young, passionate people do not see themselves working in our industry.

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