Mark Ritson: Heineken should remember marketing is about profit, not purpose

Heineken’s new purpose-driven ad might express all the right values, but marketers must remember if you don’t use your budget to create sales, you’ve failed.

HeinekenThe ad of the month is clearly the new ‘Open Your World’ four-minute spot from Heineken. The campaign has created acres of coverage and tons of social media response. But is it any good? Before I answer that question, let me tell you about an experience I had a couple of years ago.

I was invited to pitch to the global marketing team of a large, prestigious brand. They were looking for a major piece of international marketing training. I was up against two bigger firms but I fancied my chances given I knew the sector well and the company in question had specifically invited me to make a presentation.

Off I went to their European HQ for a presentation of my credentials and some examples of the programmes I had designed and delivered for other clients. It was going very well and, to be honest, I was already starting to think about the long and enjoyable road ahead. Near the end of my meeting one of the client team asked me why I so clearly enjoyed being a marketing professor. It’s a familiar question and I launched straight into my usual answer.

“Money,” I explained. “I like making money for clients.” This is true by the way. More than clever strategies or cool executions, the thing I adore most about working with companies is coming up with a strategy that eventually makes them very large sums of money; money that, without my and their intervention, would otherwise not have transpired. I waxed lyrically about how aroused I get when a strategy works and money is made for quite a while.

I do care about things other than money, but I handle them in what I like to call ‘my life’.

When I finished my little soliloquy, you could have cut the air with a knife. Something I had said had clearly gone down very poorly. Before I knew it the meeting was over and I was outside in the cold car park, blinking.

A few days later when I was told I had not won the business I drowned my sorrows with my oldest mate Simon and took him through the whole sad tale. I was convinced that the marketing team were purpose-driven and had seen my little profit speech as incongruous with their belief systems about marketing. When I explained that I was 90% sure I had lost the work because of my financial focus he scoffed and provided a (very long) set of more probable reasons for rejection which started with me being “a tosser”.

READ MORE: Mark Ritson – Opposing Trump means sacrificing sales for brand values

I knew he was only trying to make me feel better but his incredulity that you could lose a marketing pitch because you wanted to make money shows how little Simon knew about marketing and how strangely detached from commercial reality our little profession has become in recent years.

Heineken’s job is selling beer

Before we go any further, it’s important to make two things very clear. First, I do care about things other than money, but I handle them in what I like to call ‘my life’. It might just be me but I find it entirely possible to go to work for clients and focus on financial things and then, with the rest of the time I get each week, devote myself to more important pursuits like family, animals and occasionally good works.

Second, just because I am driven entirely by making money for companies, I would never do that at the expense of the planet or employees or any other core ethical concern. Again, however, I have found it curiously simple to be profit-driven without finding that a contradiction with principles of decency and responsibility.

I guess what I am trying to say is that, whatever Simon might tell you, I am not a superficial shit. But I really do think the reason marketers are employed is to make money for the companies that employ them. Preferably lots of it. And that’s why I love marketing.

With that long preamble over, let me tell you what I think about the much-debated Heineken ad. I think it’s crap. Absolute crap.

Again, let me provide a couple of caveats to this viewpoint. First, I agree with and support all the viewpoints expressed within the ad, namely: transgender rights, feminism and climate change.

Cindy Tervoort, head of marketing at Heineken UK, speaks very eloquently about the need to “inspire more people to focus on the things that unite us rather than divide us” with this new campaign and again I concur with each and every word. I also think Heineken is a fine beverage and one that I regularly invest a significant amount of my time and money consuming. But I do not see what these important topics and this lovely beer have to do with each other.

READ MORE: Why bank brands are taking a more purposeful marketing approach

Step back from the powerful four-minute Heineken ad for just 30 seconds and ask yourself why Heineken is the featured brand? Couldn’t any other brand pull this off with equal legitimacy? Surely this ad would work just as well with Guinness, Becks, Strongbow, Stella Artois or a host of other beverages.

This is not an ad about Heineken, it’s an ad about people having a beer (with a small b) to talk over their differences. As proof of that consider the ad itself, which has only fleeting images of the Heineken brand. In an ad with more than 1,000 words of dialogue not once do we hear the word Heineken uttered. There are no distinctively Heineken elements, almost no product shots and if you had to estimate an overall figure only about 2% of the whole four-minute mega-production actually features the brand or product at all.

Across the UK this week the Open Your World ad has undoubtedly spawned significant viral chatter. But how much of it revolved around Heineken and how much about “that beer ad with them people in it”. I bet I know the answer.

Perhaps Tervoort and her team at Heineken have very clear data showing that if British beer drinkers associate a brand with transgender rights, environmental protection and feminism they will switch brands. Or, and this is my suspicion, Heineken has joined the increasingly large posse of brands that have stopped seeing marketing as a way to grow awareness, drive preference and ultimately increase sales.

Instead, branding is about beliefs, missions and lofty ideals. Every brand and every newly arrived CMO is not looking for a surge in sales; instead they want to link their brand to a cultural issue faster than you can say ‘purpose’. Travel brands promote marriage equality. Cola brands push for youth protest. Insurance brands celebrate racial equality. And none of it makes any commercial sense.

Why is profit so ‘uncool’?

I think brands have switched from an overt commercial focus to an abstract, belief-based approach for a number of reasons. First marketing is soft and full of people that don’t even understand gross profit, let alone possess the desire to increase it.

Second, most marketers are incredibly embarrassed to admit that they spend 40 hours a week getting people to consume more of something. That’s achingly uncool and sounds appallingly prosaic. Imagine telling someone at a dinner party in W1 that you work very hard to get people to drink more of your beer each week. That would be a nightmare.

But if I can talk about my work to create films that bring people together and reduce hate crimes and environmental destruction even Jane, the woman who works for Médecins Sans Frontières, will approve and perhaps be my friend.

I grow sick and tired of the apparent lack of commercial focus that grips our discipline.

I encourage you to read our profile of Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair’s CMO, this week. I hope he does not mind me saying this but Jacobs is incredibly uncool. He is so uncool he even makes me, usually the least trendy person in Marketing Week, look like Mark Ronson. His interview and whole worldview of marketing is strikingly straightforward and incredibly commercial.

That makes him not only uncool but also very brave and supremely impressive. Typically, when a senior marketer gets a profile in the marketing press they wank on about beliefs, brand mission and their fascination with artificial intelligence. They do that because that’s what everyone else does and because marketing these days is not about profit, it’s about purpose.

I’m sorry to sound cynical but, as I traverse the conference halls and seminar rooms of the world at various marketing functions, I grow sick and tired of the apparent lack of commercial focus that grips our discipline. Of course, the counter argument is that beliefs-based businesses are also more profitable too. Brand purpose and commercial probity are, very handily, one and the same thing, don’t you know?

That was the theme of the recent book ‘Grow’ from the inestimable Jim Stengel, the former head of marketing at P&G. It’s still widely cited in the trendy purpose-driven sessions on marketing around the world. No-one mentions the outstanding work of Richard Shotton, who has taken Stengel’s much trumpeted link between purpose and profit and torn it up into small arse-shaped pieces of paper and sprinkled them all over the floor.

Clearly the Heineken ad has created a dialogue and, hopefully, promoted a series of progressive causes and the whole notion of respect for divergent viewpoints. But what it will not do is help Heineken sell any more beer. The ads certainly won’t do the brand any harm because, unlike Pepsi’s recent beliefs-based campaign, this is a well-made and thoughtful ad (being free of any member of the Kardashian clan also helps).

But just because a campaign does no harm, or perhaps a little good, does not make it a success. There is the important issue of opportunity cost to contend with, and what Heineken could have done with the money. What would have been the outcome had Heineken invested the money, time and other resources they ploughed into world peace and mutual understanding into selling a bit of beer with a strongly branded campaign for Heineken instead?

Somewhere between the commodifying monochrome of physical and mental availability and the achingly cool, belief-based world of ‘inspiring communities to be great’ is a middle path. A path we can call differentiated brand image. Heineken isn’t just a familiar, green beer that you can buy right now. Nor is it an important agent in achieving world harmony. It’s something in between.

And the sooner we get back to that and focus on it, the sooner we can start making money again. Assuming, of course, you’re interested.

Mark Ritson will be picking the Marketing Excellence winner at this year’s Festival of Marketing. To be in with a chance of winning you need to enter Marketing Week’s Masters of Marketing awards. For more information on the awards including a full category list and details on how to enter, visit



There are 39 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. MKTG101 10 May 2017

    Beautiful, when I grow up I want to be Mark Ritson.

  2. Having read all that, I need a beer! Time for a Peroni.

  3. Dick Stroud 11 May 2017

    I always enjoy reading your articles but this one is something special. Thanks.

  4. Emre Yilmaz 11 May 2017

    “Marketers are employed to make money for their employers” Simple, Straightforward, Provocative. Mark Ritson cuts the crap and once again reminds the wishy washy industry why do they exist. I wish I had a chance to work together with Mark Ritson

  5. Yasmin Johan 11 May 2017


  6. James Steadman 11 May 2017

    Hallelujah for campaigns driving profit!

    Now how do I say that with more brand purpose?…

  7. Ed Smallman 11 May 2017

    What a great read.

  8. Kenny Jacobs 11 May 2017

    Mark, great piece and my team have gone an bought me a pair of converse and a box of Kleenex !

  9. Abizar Shaikh 11 May 2017

    I wouldn’t hire this marketer. Super opinionated and confused.

  10. Eliza Stjohn 11 May 2017

    This article assumes you can’t do profit and purpose which I find puzzling. There’s nothing wrong with driving sales while doing good I’ve spent years working for companies who have. I think Heineken did a good job and doing this will drive profit – I consider them to be relevant, aligned to my values and I’m seeing my friends share this ad everywhere. Of course the associations I make to a brand influence whether I pick-up and purchase it!

  11. Misha Jessel-Kenyon 11 May 2017

    I agree that making money should be the primary all marketing activity. However, I disagree that this ad doesn’t make commercial sense. Product-led advertising is becoming increasingly ineffective because consumers won’t engage with content that doesn’t provide value to them. Heineken are increasing brand loyalty and engagement with an ad that speaks directly to their target market. Making money in marketing is no longer about shoving products at your consumers with me me me advertising.

  12. Chris Green 11 May 2017

    Interesting article but Mark’s central premise is quite wrong. Everyone is talking about the new Heineken ad not “that beer ad with them people in it”. So unprompted brand recall is through the roof and Heineken have extended their target audience from traditional lager drinkers to, well, everyone. All this at a fraction of the cost of those product focused beer ads Mark likes so much with their exotic locations and celebrity endorsements. Not only was this comparatively cheap to produce but by exploiting social media they have also avoided a hefty a media bill. So very clever and so very commercially astute.

  13. Dax Callner 11 May 2017

    Mark’s missed a crucial point here – refusing to ask the question, “What’s the purpose behind purpose-driven marketing?’ Of course marketing is meant to drive sales, all of it. Companies are investing in purpose-driven marketing because consumer expectations have changed. More than ever, people buy from brands that align to their values, and don’t from those that don’t. That means that in order to generate sales, brands need to demonstrate their value. The purpose behind purpose-driven marketing: making money.

  14. Justin Lines 11 May 2017

    I completely agree with the modern day marketer’s fear of money.

    Recently at a training event when asked what the purpose of our job was… why did we try to understand the customer and change their behaviour… I replied “To make more money.” It was as though I had shot everyone’s fucking dog in front of them, one by one.

    However, I disagree with your statement of the advert of the crap ad. Let’s wait till the sales results our out, it may be the want of the marketer to have 99% of the with someone screaming the brand’s name, but the audience doesn’t.

    I think they produced great content that gave off the same enjoyable experience as movie trailers. Let the sales be the decider.

  15. Kelechi Nwosu 11 May 2017

    Interesting piece from Mark Ritson. It would be great to get a response about how the ad has fared on sales and Purchase Intent before we conclude if successful or not . Mark’s argument is that brands find a middle point between purpose driven advertising and commercially driven work. Does a lot not depend on the values, insight and mindset of the consumers?

  16. Charlotte Kennedy 11 May 2017

    From the perspective of a female occasional beer drinker, I find it refreshing that Heineken has finally reached out to an audience that – in their own words – other beers cannot reach! Or, more precisely, other beers fail to target. Personally, the advert resonates with me as a buyer. It’s not about getting more middle-aged men to drink Heineken or to get in touch with their feminine side. For me – and I think for Heineken – it’s about introducing more women to a beer brand of choice and, inevitably, very much about profit!

  17. Matthew Gidley 11 May 2017

    From three separate reports, commissioned by three separate research groups:

    84% of Americans believe that brands have the power to make the world better
    75% of Americans believe that brands should make more of a contribution of wellbeing and quality of life
    75% of Americans believe that brands should take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the community where it operates

    We’re not thinking this way because we are soft lefty bed-wetters who have forgotten what profit means, we’re thinking this way because the world has changed.

    The good old days aren’t coming back, Mark. You sound angry about that.

    • MKTG101 12 May 2017

      It’s called the Theory of Planned Behaviour. What people believe and what they do is not the same, that’s why those statistics are pointless.

      “In the United Kingdom, ethical consumerism data show that although most consumers are concerned about environmental or social issues, with 83 percent of consumers intending to act ethically on a regular basis, only 18 percent of people act ethically occasionally, while fewer than 5 percent of consumers show consistent ethical and green purchasing behaviours”. Source: Doane, Deborah. “CSR.” (2005).

  18. Max La Franca 12 May 2017

    In principles I agree but wouldn’t it be useful to support your assertions with some data? Moreover, aren’t we missing the big picture here? Heineken is probably doing tons and tons of hard selling activities all over the world, is it that bad to have some balance with a more purposeful communication that, by the way, is travelling the globe?

  19. andy last 12 May 2017

    I love your writing, Mark, and the way you call out lazy thinking and bandwagon jumping. But I disagree with your perspective on the Heineken campaign.

    Heineken’s focus on purpose is commercial, as a response to the social context in which their business operates and which their consumers inhabit. What have they done over the last couple of years? They have looked at that social context and come to two conclusions: one, that they have to address the downside of alcohol in society (irresponsible drinking) head on; and two, that there is an opportunity to market their brand through the upside of alcohol in society (breaking down barriers). And then acted on them with creativity.

    In the first case they decided to go beyond compliance and simply tagging ‘please drink responsibly’ onto the end of their ads and tackled the elephant in the room in a style authentic to their brand, with campaigns featuring DJs urging consumers to ‘Dance More, Drink Slow’. This social shield has now given them the licence to pick up a social sword, to celebrate the good that a beer like Heineken can do to bring people together. The Worlds Apart film brings this insight to life in a new and shareable way. The sharing happens at the scale it does precisely because the branding isn’t in your face. Other spots will no doubt be more tightly focused on the product and Heineken marketing needs to be spot on at bar and in store. But it all comes together to grow awareness, drive preference and ultimately increase sales – and this from a brand that grew 3.7% globally last year, with double digit volume growth in the UK.

    And sorry you feel you have to separate your work self from your home self (although I don’t believe you). Again, the evidence says people increasingly want to be able to take their true self to work. There’s plenty of research now showing that a higher purpose (i.e. beyond going to work just for the money) creates employee satisfaction and attraction and the support for the #goodworkis campaign ahead of the publication of the Taylor report on Employment Practices in the Modern Economy shows politicians in the UK responding to this as one of the ways of tackling the UK’s issue with productivity.

    I should say that I have no commercial interest in Heineken other than drinking it. And do please never stop poking the wasp nests of complacency.

  20. Al King 12 May 2017

    Marketing is disarmingly simple, yet so few of its practitioners (and readers of this column) actually get it: Identifying, creating and keeping customers profitably. Every single word in that definition counts and they come in the right order too, leading to the all important profit. Without it we all lose our jobs. So get on with it or choose another profession.

  21. Alexander Levashov 12 May 2017

    I would probably disagree with Mark regarding this particular ad.
    I think it may work for an audience it targets.

  22. Alessandro 12 May 2017

    “how much of it revolved around Heineken and how much about that beer ad with them people in it? I bet I know the answer.”

    You mentioned “Heineken” 25 times in this article. And when people refer to this ad, they’re calling it “the new Heineken ad”. And it doesn’t matter that the product isn’t featured much in the ad, because it will be featured as a hero image on most blog posts and online articles (including yours). Heineken is everywhere.

    ‘Surely this ad would work just as well with Guinness, Becks, Strongbow, Stella Artois or a host of other beverages.;

    But the point is these other brands DIDN’T do it. Heineken DID. There are hundreds of ideas (product-driven ones too) that can be applied to a whole category, but the brand who does it first (and does it well) is the always the winner.

    Unless you can prove that this ‘won’t help Heineken sell any more beer’, your argument isn’t the most convincing.

    • First-mover advantage (if there even is one in this case) does not automatically equate to sustainable competitive advantage. If this campaign is a raging success in terms of increasing brand saliency and sales, another brand will simply align itself with a different belief system or systems held by the same target segment. Heineken will be back at square one and the cycle begins again. Good news for the creative agency, think of all that billable time.

  23. Chris Arnold 13 May 2017

    IT’S A DODO. I said much the same when I first saw this video (it’s not really an ad). Coming from both an ethical marketing specialism and strategic position, I was left scratching my head. What are H trying to do? Or say? This is a social proposition about beer, not H, it could be any brand. Even cider. Or Coke. In fact if it was Coke it’d resonate better. H has no heritage in bringing people with differences together. It’s a very ordinary beer brand,
    Someone at H doesn’t understand beer marketing.
    Great PR and social chat but is any of that actually delivering more sales? Probably not long term. “Measure the important – don’t make the measurable important”. Does it reframe the brand… no way.
    Rather than just voice my opinion I asked 100 Millennials on one of our research panels what they thought. Not good. No one thought that H was a credible brand when it comes to social issues like this. Bad news, it created a negative response to the brand – seen as gimmicky, trying to exploit an idea… my panel saw straight through it. Then comes the crunch… it doesn’t sell beer. Or reframe the brand. “Pointless.”
    This is one of many videos based on TV ideas (like that terrible dyslexia sperm bank video).
    Now compare this to the new Monoprix ad, Le Film ( Beautifully written, simple idea, really engaging, on brand, relevant to Monoprix only… and it got a lot more social media numbers and PR activity. And actually helped increase brand values and sales.
    The lesson here is… do a great ad not a gimmick. Great ads perform better. Gimmicks are great if you want to delude yourself with social media numbers and PR coverage, but it’s void.

    • Good quote, Chris…“Measure the important – don’t make the measurable important”, the digital agency I work with are going to be hearing this alot.

  24. julia 14 May 2017

    I completely disagree with this article. If this guys is a marketing professor, I believe we should re-think the entire system of our values and education. I think Heineken has a vision and sales with prove it in a long term. This is marketing.

  25. Catrina 14 May 2017

    As a freelance marketing consultant, I recently had a conversation with a potential client who fed back that in my past I was too focused on delivering marketing strategies that impacted the bottom line in terms of revenue and profit. They had asked me to pitch to develop a marketing strategy to enter a new market subsection. They were a FTSE 250 company, but only wanted to follow the pretty pictures and colouring pens definition of marketing.

    I was aghast at the response and felt very sad that marketing is losing its relevance to really driving a company forward. Marketing strategy is about driving a business forward whilst delivering profitability. It is not about chosing a picture or an image.

    Whether the Heineken advert, which I had not seen or heard about previously, delivers an upturn in sales is still to be seen.

  26. We are lucky indeed to have someone within the industry who is willing to hold the profession to account and who is high profile enough to have their voice heard. Keep up the good work Mark, the profession’s reputation depends on it.

    Having recently secured my seat at the top table within the business I work for (the first marketing professional and youngest to do so), I know this came from increasing brand saliency, increasing market share, increasing revenues and growing profits…enabling them to add a seat at the top table, for me to occupy.

  27. Neil Anderson 15 May 2017

    If all the major beer brands on the planet formed a co-operative, this would be a great viral ad for the category. It promotes the concept that people of all beliefs can relax and chat over ‘a quiet beer’. And as we know, often a quiet beer ends up becoming quite a session.

  28. Mark Batchelor 15 May 2017

    I do not disagree that ‘making money’ to drive profit is at the core of the marketer’s remit. BUT ever ask yourself why? I have on many occasions, and how do I reconcile that with wider and societal agendas, and look beyond the silo of my own business function of ‘marketing’?

    Ridderstrale and Nordstrum with their book ‘Funky Business’ in 2000 prompted me with their insights to consider the ‘bigger picture’ and my responsibilities within business to the global population, economies, communities, and the natural world.

    For me it’s simple, and constantly asking ‘Why?’ eventually led me to answering our purpose as marketers. Our purpose as marketers is to create prosperity, that’s the end game. Prosperity of the global economy, of communities, of the planet , of our business, brands, and ourselves. We achieve this through creating ‘relevance’, something that people continue to ‘buy’ and subscribe to – levels of compliance, advocacy, sales, and profit are purely the measures of our success, and mechanisms that help us judge if we’re getting it right, and not the end game in themselves. That’s what differentiates and defines us and our chosen profession of marketing.

  29. Zbiggy Ucinek 15 May 2017

    Looks like Andy, Julia and I are in the minority, but then again I have a rule of thumb that when the mass support something, it normally means it is wrong. In this instance Mark, and it happens rarely re your posts, I believe you are truly talking out your arse.

    First and foremost, yes a business is ultimately about making money. But that should be built on a profitable, sustainable, long term business model. Which via a quality product or service together with a positioning and a marketing approach that ensures a brand that completely outflanks the competition. Making it notoriously difficult or even impossible for competitors to replicate or challenge.

    While functional benefits are incredibly important they are all in some way, shape or form ultimately improvable. Therefore open to constant competitor challenge and with it a loss of potential product/service superiority. Thus the only way to truly ensure long term competitive advantage and therefore financial success is to ensure your brand gains a status that transcends functional benefits and develops an incredibly powerful emotional relationship with the customer that goes beyond normal logic or reason. Namely it achieves Iconic Brand Status.

    Sadly to the best of my knowledge an Iconic Brand building approach is rarely if ever taught in marketing courses/MBA’s, no doubt as Tom Peters so eloquently stated why MBA’s don’t teach creativity, because it is bloody difficult. People like yourself therefore can’t adopt a supposed “paint by numbers magic formula” that they can then sell to the gullible. Confirmed by your stance that marketing is just about making money, at least you’re honest in how you position yourself.

    To confirm the Marketing Guru’s complete lack of interest. Having successfully re positioned a true Global Iconic Brand, I decided to check with academia. What a surprise just one book written about how some brands achieved this status and why. An exceptional read by Douglas B Holt called How Brands Become Icons.

    In it he shows via detailed & painstaking empirical analysis that one or two adverts played THE significant impact on not only achieving this status but the significant volume sales that it resulted in. So sorry to call you out on this one, but the Coca-Cola Teach the World to sing (i.e. Youth protest that you dissed above) and the Mean Joe Green (About Race/Racial Tensions) are two of the ones he proves to be the KEY drivers of Coke performance over the period he analysed.

    Next your building up of the Ryanair CMO. I suggest it is actually you who should re read it. Obviously a clever and competent guy, but also wise enough to realise his strength is in value propositions. The only reason people fly Ryanair is price and a virtual monopoly on certain routes. Period! Even Michael O’Leary admitted a while back that they need to improve their approach to customers. Put simply I doubt many customers would remain if someone had the balls and pockets to go head to head on the price and actually provide any kind of decent service to go with it.

    Finally Heineken, and the fact that other brands could do the same ad and the lack of branding. Actually if you know the category and core essence of the brands you list none of them would fit comfortably or credibly with that approach. Only Heineken has the brand D.N.A capable of doing it in an authentic and credible way by virtue of it being a lager, its Dutch cosmopolitan heritage and previous off the wall ad campaigns. Also given the negative issues the Alcohol Industry faces. Just an exceptional ad for subtly addressing them all.

    As to the branding comment the only thing that for me made any sense was your acceptance of being uncool. Just look at what people especially the more on trend are wearing. Not a massive, in your face logo in sight. Obscene branding is not only a thing of the past, but shouting at your audience just creates turn-off. Intrigue them, Entertain them, Make them Think and you have a potential friend for life.

    But I guess given you teach and I just do you must be right. Just gonna give Apple, Harley Davidson, Absolut, Marlboro et al a call to say they have been doing it all wrong. Namely they should sod their purpose and just drop their prices, cut the costs and make some bloody money fast. I believe that would fit nicely in your approach, above, to what Marketers should be doing or have you just confused a CMO with a CFO?

    Hopefully the next article will be you, back to your exceptional best. Cos never mind the Heineken ad this weeks views, were truly crap.

  30. Tony Mariani 17 May 2017

    That a sarcastic comment? If not please do opine why!

  31. Peter Györki 17 May 2017

    Mark Ritsons article on the Heineken advertising in Marketing Week gives an interesting and reasonable explanation to why agencies no longer are as welcome as business partners in the boardrooms of our clients as we used to be.

    Should it not be the agencies primary task to help our clients to capitalise on their investments and efforts, by contributing to their business with our skills in communication? We should help them to draw potential consumers attention to their offering, so they can stay in business. To help our clients, so consumers can spot the product benefit they have. The benefit that creates a difference to the competitors brands, so their offering gets to be chosen. To help them communicate so that heir consumers truly can spot and appreciate the value of the marketed product. To create loyalty to the brand marketed. And thus repeat the purchase of the now preferred brand?

    Only then does we as consultants create true commercial value for our clients!

    All the above can of course also be achieved with purpose driven marketing.
    But most of the time these efforts come out, only as an empty stance. A fake disguise.
    One have to be both skilled and cautious in creating a true message that actually also works commercially for the client. And truly, are not our parents, teachers, politicians, media, artists, and authors more skilled and credible in changing peoples values and frame of mind then commercially driven corporations?

  32. Lorna Al-Ani 19 May 2017

    Thanks for a really interesting read. Your blog inspired me to write about the forgotten purpose of marketing in an article for our company.

  33. Sam Hurley 28 May 2017

    Thanks Mark, makes for a thought provoking read. I agree that we still need to focus on the results we can achieve in the marketing profession and ultimately, increased revenue is generally the most important one, however, I do think that consumers behaviour and expectations has led to this change. Consumers want to know which side the brands are on (look at New Balance and Nordstrom examples in the Trump era) and what they stand for. Consumers also are over being sold to, one way conversations with brands and something being shoved down their throats. That’s not to say marketing shouldn’t focus on making a brand money, but they need to do that in a different way. At least now we may have a better idea of our ROI – and our objective may be to increase the lifetime value of the customer – so we can see the effects of our ‘stories’. You’re right though, I didn’t remember it was Heineken in that ad until I read your article.

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