In 2019, while deliberating on the Adweek Agency of the Year, the jury noticed something about McCann’s work that was submitted: There appeared to be a lot of work that looked into goal. The agency’s signature campaign for Microsoft’s Adaptive Controller was well-known and high-profile. But other work for brands like L’Oreal, Mastercard, Ikea and GSK has proven that purpose and commerce can live in harmony.
During the last years, the goal has become a hot topic. For the most part, brands seem to understand (or are working on) their place in people’s lives. They also know they have to stand up for something because consumers are looking under the hood of companies more often. To this end, agencies, custodians of creativity, assess their own ways forward.
Of course, there is a long history of agencies working for charities, NGOs and organizations that are admirable (and sometimes award-winning). But we are probably in brackish water where point elements should not be confused with real “goal”, and agencies and their clients are seeing it all in real time, with consumers keeping a close watch.
“The goal is to build a mission and a philosophy on how you act in the world,” said Deb Morrison, Carolyn Chambers Distinguished Professor of Advertising at the University of Oregon. “Agencies and brands have a selling proposition. The tension comes from being altruistic and still playing in this area. This is the question. How do you balance that and don’t hurt? “
More and more, agencies are putting their goal at the heart. Some have built a purpose into the foundation while others have evolved, becoming certified B Corp, which is an official designation for companies that express a broader mission of spreading affirmative action globally. Others continue to understand what it means while maintaining a business. Adweek spoke with executives from five agencies to learn more about the agency’s purpose and to better understand where this practice may evolve.
Cooking for the purpose from the start
Oberland and Oliver Russell are two agencies that have been involved from the start. The first was founded in New York in 2014 and the second opened a boutique in 1991 and is considered one of the founding agencies with a specific vocation.
Drew Train, one of the co-founders of Oberland (and former head of good social practices at JWT), sees the goal evolving in the same vein as digital more than ten years ago. In its early days, digital technology was a neglected practice. Then when the technology took off, lots of digital agencies appeared, and the practice became entrenched and less curious.
“It was interesting to see the evolution of people [on purpose]Train said, noting that he believes larger agencies will create, adapt or evolve end practices. “When we said it for the first time six years ago, we got questioning looks. Today is very different. I think we are now at the point where people are starting to realize that this goal is a real thing and recognized in the industry.
The other co-founder of Oberland, Bill Oberlander—Which first partnered with Train on a project to help New York City veterans returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — noted that obstacles still remain. overcome. The big problem is that brands can no longer stay away, even though they have seen brands like Dove, Ben & Jerry’s, Toms and others make it their success.
“If you asked the average marketer if he considered putting a goal in their marketing plan, it was more of a ‘good to have’, and ‘we’ll take care of that as a charity act,’ Oberlander said. . “Now with Black Lives Matter, coming out of Covid-19, a controversial election – the goal is the centerpiece of a marketing plan. You have to have a point of view. “