Brands with purpose: the role of insight in creating campaigns we really care about

We are starting to see a fundamental shift in the way that brands approach marketing. Companies are moving away from placing products at the heart of campaigns and are instead bringing the causes we care about the fore. And in these campaigns, insight plays a central role.

You only need to look to Always to see this approach in action. Its brilliant brand campaign ‘Our Epic Battle: Like a Girl’ is designed tackle the underlying gender stereotypes that can limit girls in an effort to boost their confidence during their all-important teenage years. Why? Because the brand found that over half of women say they experienced a decline in confidence during puberty.

Always’ first commercial, which puts the spotlight on the phrase ‘Like a Girl’, was released a year ago. The advert explores how the phrase ‘Like a Girl’ has come to be a derogatory term and encourages girls to reclaim it. But this is not a one-off effort: it’s a sustained campaign. Last month the brand released its second commercial: Like A Girl: Girl Emojis which calls out the stereotypical nature of the emojis. As one girl rightly points out: “there are no girls in the profession emojis- unless you count being a bride a profession.” The brand has also hosted a #LIKEAGIRL Confidence Summit, worked with schools and teachers to bring confidence training to schools and partnered with TED to develop a series of educational videos on the subject.

Always is not the only brand championing this kind of marketing. For International Women’s Day Fairy dropped the ‘y’ and temporarily rebranded as ‘Fair’ to start a conversation about the fair division of housework between men and women. Ariel launched its ‘Share the Load’ campaign to do the same and this month Ben and Jerry’s launched ‘Don’t Get Frozen Out’, a campaign designed to ensure young Londoners register to vote ahead of the Mayoral Election.

So why are we seeing so many brands doing this? Well, quite simply it creates powerful marketing. Cause-based campaigns are often thought-provoking, emotive and consequently, result in a much stronger connection between the brand and consumer than any product-based campaign could ever create.

In these sorts of campaigns insight has a key role to play. ‘Like a Girl’, ‘Fair’ and ‘Don’t Get Frozen Out’ are all based on core insights that have huge relevance and importance to the brand’s target audience: Always recognised that girls’ confidence plummets during puberty, Fairy identified that on average women in the UK still spend 117 more minutes a day on housework than men. Ben and Jerry’s noticed that only 1 in 5 eligible Londoners are actually registered to vote.

By building on these insights these brands have been able to draw attention to important causes and start to make a difference. The result? High impact, high reach campaigns – particularly amongst the  brand’s core audience. High impact because as a consumer you are more likely to identify with a brand that champions a common cause than one that simply tries to flog its products. And high reach as consumers are more inclined to share content that appeals to their core beliefs and values. That’s why in my mind, combining important causes with rich consumer insight is the winning combination for creating effective marketing.