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Nov 08, 2023
Esme Smith
On the Record: October 2023
Welcome back to On the Record – our monthly roundup of all things Purpose
It’s officially spooky season. That means bringing you the obligatory Halloween puns, the stories that gave us the scaries in the world of purpose (think book burning and culture wars), and impact campaigns catapulting mental health and Alzeimher’s awareness (if ignored, a frightening future for us all).
In publishing, Penguin Random House and Rethink create an Unburnable Book
Nothing induces Halloween chills like Margaret Attwood’s tales of apocalyptic disaster and dystopian governments. But using a flamethrower to try and burn one of her own books is far from fiction.

The power of books goes without saying. They challenge beliefs and provoke new ways of seeing the world, which is why many have been historically suppressed. But book censorship is very much a present day issue. In 2022, there was a surge of book banning in the US. Double that of the previous year. One Tennessee pastor organised a book burning event targeting books like Twilight and Harry Potter, presumably putting a stop to all the bloody-sucking, wand-waving profanity.

In protest, Penguin partnered with Rethink to create the Unburnable Book, a flame-resistant copy of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The campaign aimed to bring awareness to the book’s anti-censorship debate and was successful, raising $130,000 for PenAmerica. Long live literature liberation. Discover why it won The Drum Brave Award here.

Find out more here.
In the stands, Norwich City Football Club tackles mental health awareness fearlessly
When it comes to creating impact, Norwich City recently proved you don’t have to be a top league club with big league budgets to create far reaching awareness about suicide. A poignant insight guided it’s powerful suicide prevention campaign in support of Samaritans; the average ticket holder for a Norwich FC game is the same average age as men most at risk of taking their own life, according to the club.

The creative output is a 2 minute film that demonstrates suicide doesn’t always have obvious signs, no matter if your an introvert or the loud and proud fan. Described as the “best mental health awareness campaign I’ve ever seen” by Radio DJ and mental health advocate Roman Kemp, the video reached 40 million views in its first week.

The biggest win? It spreads a powerful message that we can all make a difference in suicide prevention with just a little empathy, whether on or off the pitch.

Find out more here.
In fairytales, a Disney inspired love story with a dark twist for Alzheimer’s Research UK
It’s a tale as old as time – a prince and princess slaying a dragon before settling down in a towering castle. But where most fairy tales end, this one keeps going. As the story progresses, the prince struggles with memory loss and confusion, sending their love story down an unpredictable path. This is the premise of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s latest ad, created by Above+Beyond, that uses animation to show how the disease can transform relationships.

There is startlingly little awareness about dementia and Alzheimer’s in the UK. A YouGov survey revealed that less than half of 2,162 respondents (49%) could name memory loss as an effect of dementia. Only 4% recognized difficulties in body and motor control while only 5% understood communication challenges caused by dementia.

It’s this lack of understanding that CEO of Alzheimer’s Research UK, Hilary Evans, says is limiting our ability to find a cure. What better way to create awareness than tapping into the universal desire for a Happy Ever After, narrated by the dulcet tones of Olivia Colman?
Find out more here.
The Next Revolution is…Unpolarising purpose
Halloween is scary, but not as much as the wrath of today’s culture war bearing down on your brand’s purpose strategy. What is the way forward for purpose marketing in an increasingly polarised world?

Halloween aside, we live in spine-chilling times. Polarisation has gripped almost all aspects of culture and politics.

Dogmatic views and the deafening shouts of the extremes creates fractures between and within generations. With the US and UK general elections looming, divided opinions will only entrench as hyperbole and identity politics take hold of mainstream media.

It leaves marketers in a precarious position when it comes to purpose. Whereas in the past brands’ vocal stand on controversial issues have garnered praise, today they can face backlash. The ‘S’ of ESG seems to cause particular grievance. US retailer, Target, became embroiled in a boycott battle during Pride Month. As did Disney, Hershey’s Chocolate and Nike.

And it’s not just the brand reputation at stake. Senior marketers have lost jobs. Staff face physical and verbal attack. Earlier this year, target employees were confronted by angry shoppers and their LGBTQIA+ displays vandalised. It means managing the reservations of internal stakeholders is becoming a significant job for purpose professionals.

But a retreat from purpose is not the answer. Revolt research shows 58% of US consumers state they “prefer it when brands advocate for issues that matter to me and to them”. One in two Republican respondents agree brands should stand for particular issues. Evidently, a brand doing good for the world can garner cross-partisan support.

So with marketer’s stuck between a rock and hard place, what’s next?

Hearing about a polarised world is nothing new. But rarely do we hear how to move forward. All diagnosis, no solution. Revolt’s latest report changes that. We provide a new playbook for purpose in the age of polarisation.

Read the full article here.

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