Five of the best

by Ben Peacock

Call it brand purpose, brand activism, brandstanding or good ‘ole cause marketing.

Whatever the term, we’re always on the lookout for great examples of brands stepping out of the overpromises of Adland and into the much tougher world of trying to create a genuine impact on an issue that can make the world a better place.

Why are we always looking? Because there are so few good examples out there. What do we look for? In a nutshell, three things:

Firstly, something that actually creates an impact. And no, simply drawing attention to an issue is generally not good enough. The amount of lame campaigns that simple aim to ‘raise awareness’ without creating any real impact is embarrassing. At worst, you have Pepsi and Kendall Jenner, where the problem is obvious. But there are plenty of award winning campaigns in this category that created no change other then to stick a statue on someone’s shelf.

Secondly, a bit of creativity. Environmental and social issues are tough conversations, so it’s tempting to take that furrowed brow serious approach. But the best way to get people interested is generally to raise a smile, even if it’s simply to say, ‘wow, that’s clever’.

Third, it gives the customer a role to play. Yes, a big company can have a big impact, but it can have a much bigger one if it multiplies that by every employee, customer and some onlookers too.

So who’s doing it well? Here are five reasonably recent examples that we hunted down. Hope you like.


1. Don’t buy Coca-Cola unless. 
Shades of Patagonia’s famous ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket’ here as Coca-Cola launches its goal to collect a bottle for each one it sells via a ballsy challenge to customers not to buy Coca-Cola unless you’re prepared to recycle the bottle – and provides recycling at festival to make it easier.


2. LEGO’s fake plastic trees.
In cause you missed it, last year LEGO started trialing pieces made from plant based plastics – mostly sugar cane. And what did they start with? The tree and plant pieces. All class.

3. The Earth Day Holiday.

We love this one, partly because we presented it as an idea to a client a couple of years back, but mostly because it just needs to happen. North Face is calling on Earth Day to be a national holiday. We say hey, why not go global?

4. The carbon neutral credit card.
By Bank of Aland. Calculates the climate impact of your purchases then gives you the option to reduce or offset it.


5. Pantone Glowing, Glowing, Gone.
Pantone’s colours of the year are those of the world’s reefs. And the challenge to creatives everywhere, is to use them to create work about oceans and reefs.

There you go. Five of the best. Send in what you’ve seen and we will blog them around.