God tells brands to serve some purpose for consumers
Richard Pinder is God. Well OK he’s Publicis Worldwide’s chief operating officer – but is there any significant difference? Yeah I know, Pinder gets paid more and no doubt has a better looking PA whose skirt length God would never tolerate…
Anyway, Pinder has just proclaimed that businesses should widen their concern from financial growth to what he calls “purpose”.
Wonder what his clients will think about this sudden onslaught of sappiness:
“A world where we think it’s just about producing stuff and selling stuff is a world that will rapidly find the wheels coming off as the next generation comes through and says ‘I don’t need more handbags, more this, more that, I don’t aspire to having double what my parents had because they have too much anyway’.”
He added: “I think what now we’re seeing is a world where the products have to add a proper purpose in improving someone’s life”.
Would the last client to leave the building please turn off the lights. Well Pinder doesn’t think so:
“It is well-documented that Marc Pritchard of Procter & Gamble is extremely zealous at promoting purpose-inspired benefits and serving customers not selling to customers. To me the fact that the world’s largest user of advertising is in that mode tells you something…. the world’s second largest one said something quite similar. Keith Weed of Unilever talked a lot about good rather than profit being what consumers want to know companies will do.”
Wow..nice sentiments, although coming from where they do, I think one has to be deeply suspicious – is this simply the wounded gasps of a marketing industry in decline and desperate for new relevance? If these businesses are no longer to be concerned with financial growth then just what is their useful purpose to consumers and -assuming such a purpose can be identified – should such purpose not be better provided by other means?
Then God becomes Pinder again as he just doesn’t quite manage to maintain his lofty tone: “You really have to be looking at how we are going to build content that people are going to want to interact with and not just feel is disposable and transient, forgettable. How many ads have you seen that are forgettable in the last 24 hours? Anything that is transient and here today gone tomorrow is rejected by the consumer these days. They don’t want to know. They want to know what’s behind what you’re doing. If we want customers to care about our ads and our communications we’ve got to make them have utility.”
So there you have it; we’re not talking about corporations fundamentally reviewing their role in society to see whether they can serve a purpose to improve our lives, but instead we’re just trying to get those pesky consumers to take notice of our ads…so they keep consuming in order to maintain corporate growth. Now, that’s leadership!