Wake up and make a difference! Today!

Wake up and make a difference! Today!

I hate the word ‘woke’.

But then I’ve never been great at getting up.

Dad joke is in and it’s in early.

Anyway ‘woke’. It’s just not lit.

That generational, “too old for this @$%!” Murtaugh-ism is absolutely true of what people have been calling woke advertising or woke capitalism.

I wouldn’t call it that.

I’d calling it high-jacking.


Stealing (not borrowing) equity that you’ve done nothing to deserve.

The kind of advertising that’s nothing more than a weathervane pointing the way the wind is blowing.

Brands that think they can engage with people by shining a spotlight on the issue of the day – and then – crucially doing absolutely about it.

We call that talking the talk.

It’s got no substance to it.

Scratch the surface and its gloss.

A sheen of superficiality designed to flog a fizzy drink or a razor blade. A sheen that people can see through.

What’s least forgivable is that these campaigns are an appropriation of cultural and social movements with genuine gravitas that have the potential to be vehicles for positive societal change. They are not bandwagons for brands.

Even when you try to do something well-meaning it can go wrong. Gillette were well intentioned, but you can’t get people to address problems by telling them off. A lot of people might have loved the ad but they weren’t necessarily the ones buying the product.

As is often Nike is the exception. They didn’t technically do anything for Colin Kaepernick but give him their support. Coming from Nike that’s enough. They wanted to stand up for him not standing up and in doing so they said we agree with you.

I’m an optimistic and enthusiastic cynic. I believe that there is a role for brands to play in making the world a slightly better place. Real Beauty. This Girl Can. Find Your Magic. All leaving the world a bit nicer than they found it. All looking at behaviours rather than jumping on issues.

It’s also what people want. Study after study has showed that people want to buy from brands that make a difference. An Accenture survey showed that 63% of people preferred brands who reflected their own values and beliefs. YouGov said that 58% of people want brands to have a clear and transparent perspective. Forbes showed that 88% want brands to help them to make a difference.

Unsurprisingly everyone at Cannes was talking about purpose. Purpose is key to making a positive impact. It doesn’t have to change the world, but it should have meaning. Have some depth. It’s something our agency cares very deeply about. Doing is better than saying and doing good is good for business.

We’ve a world full of things that need fixing and Governments who seem incapable of doing anything about them. Brands are looking to standout and agencies are looking to make a mark. None of those things exclude any of the others.

What difference will you make today? What difference can we make to tomorrow?

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