‘Create ideals, not ideas for great CSR’

Brands looking to promote the good causes they are involved in through their marketing need to occupy a value based mindset throughout their businesses in order to succeed and not appear false, according to Advertising Association chairman Cilla Snowball.

Sainsbury's Values Make Us Different
Advertising Association chair Cilla Snowball highlights Sainsbury’s approach as an example of building values-led ideals throughout the entire business

Snowball, who is also the group chairman and chief executive of advertising group Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and sits on the board of Comic Relief, thinks brands must refine their cause-related marketing strategies around three pillars: “purpose, values and consistency”.

Speaking at TV marketing body Thinkbox’s “TV: doing good” event in London today (13 September), Snowball said brands should encapsulate their purpose for doing cause-related work in the strapline of their campaigns – rather than purely seeking a direct response.

She added: “Consumers want to connect with brands that have a purpose and if that’s at large in your TV ads and expressed in a number of other ways you’ll do better than brands that don’t…it’s incredibly rewarding and career building – it’s not just people walking around in open-toed sandles saying ‘be altruistic’.”

Brands that look to create “ideals” rather than simply advertising “ideas” are those most likely to create engagement and drive profit from their cause related campaigns, Snowball said.

She pointed to Sainsbury’s, an AMV client, as an example of a brand that has successfully built values into every division in the business, using the mantra “our values make us different”.

“Occupying a value mindset is not just a corporate trying to wrap themselves up in the clothes of a good cause, but good causes [should be] embedded seamlessly at the heart of the business. That kind of work used to exist in corporate affairs [but I am happy] it’s moved right to the centre stage of marketing,” she added.

Ultimately, she said advertisers have a responsibility to talk about how brands and the advertising industry can be a “force for good”. Earlier this year the Advertising Association’s think tank Credos commissioned a study to be conducted by Deloitte, looking at how advertising contributes to economic growth and the role it plays in everyday life and society.

Speaking at the same session, EDF’s marketing director, Martin Stead, reinforced the Snowball’s advice, saying that brands need to demonstrate a “single-minded simple idea” about what they stand for in order to amplify their cause-led campaigns.

He added: “We are a brand with sustainability at the heart of the business. By creating that positioning and driving it you create further impetus for the company to do more. It’s not just about getting consumers to change their behaviour – if you get it right, branding and advertising can be become an inspiration for employees to drive back to that vision.”

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