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Jan 16, 2024
Olly Lawder
Causes That Count: 2024

The 50 issues that matter most to people this year.
What is causes that count?
At Revolt, we believe that brands can grow and develop through a clear and distinct purpose whilst also addressing the most important issues facing people and the environment. To help businesses identify those key issues that matter most to consumers, we conduct a yearly survey of 5,000 people across five different global markets, and rank the top 50 issues in our “Causes that Count Index”.

This Index provides businesses with the ideal tool to connect with their consumers, by identifying how their brand can make a meaningful impact on the issues that matter most to them. It also enables businesses to delve deeper into their unique brand purpose, finding their fight within their purpose and providing insight on which issues to avoid and areas where to expand.
Sep 04, 2023
Olly Lawder
Disaster marketing: Where the four Ps meet the three Fs of climate change
Floods, fire and famine. Extreme weather events in 2023 have highlighted the urgency of climate change, and Olly Lawder, Senior Strategy Director at Revolt, shares advice for how marketers can respond to the climate crisis.

Our climate has changed. The heatwaves across Europe and the US in July would have been “virtually impossible” without human-induced climate change, according to the World Weather Attribution. Global temperatures last month shattered records, leading to the UN Secretary General António Guterres to declare “the era of global boiling has arrived”. We know the intimate connection between emissions and temperature rise. What we’ve been less clear on is just how bad the consequences will be. So far, they’ve been worse than expected.  

Many brand marketers will be considering what they can do to help tackle global climate change. However, the majority of marketers sell products and services that either fit into an aspirational picture of a life or make everyday living a little more convenient and comfortable. When disaster strikes, do they really want to be associated with that?    
Disasters reveal the dependency business has on both stable supply and consumer markets. With the rate and severity of the three Fs (flood, fire and famine) predicted to increase with rising CO2, any brand that makes, moves or sells products that rely on natural resources not only has a risk to manage, but an obligation to be part of the solution.    
And beyond the responsibility, there is also opportunity – a role for brands to be there for their customers at moments of need. Marketing in times of disaster, let’s call it ‘disaster marketing’, is about blending purpose, sustainability and communications for positive impact in a way that connects brands with people and place.   

Disaster marketing is not crisis comms. Crisis comms is when something terrible has happened to your business. Disaster marketing is when something terrible has happened to the world your business is part of. This summer’s wildfires come after a solid run of crises – hurricanes, a pandemic and wars – and we have already seen some great examples of disaster marketing.   

Using the lens of marketing’s four Ps, we can see the approach that brands are taking.    
Price: Climate change’s impact on consumer finances 
‘Climateflation’ has been a recent contributor to the cost-of-living crisis. We are glimpsing the economic reality of a changed climate: infrastructure breakdown, trade disruption, scarcity and asset destruction. In the short term, if a supply chain is disrupted or a key ingredient is unavailable a disaster can send your price skyrocketing.   

The cost-of-living crisis has left some Brits struggling to feed their families, with 1.1 million of them turning to loan sharks. Iceland decided to help by creating ethical credit with 100% interest-free micro-loans for families to help them put food on the table. Brands need to be able to react to fluctuating costs and changing consumer spending power.
Product: Pivoting to help tackle climate  
In an emergency, perspectives change. Wants are replaced by needs, needs replaced by necessities. For brands who sell something that competes with an essential like water or a staple crop, an emergency can be a time to get out the way. This is why Coca Cola China has a disaster readiness plan to switch over its plants from soda to bottled water production.    

If you sell a non-essential good, it may be time to look at your core competencies and ask what you can make that will make a positive difference with climate change. LMVH responded to COVID by re-tooling its plants to create much-needed hand sanitiser. When the war in Ukraine sent a wave of refugees fleeing to Poland, MasterCard helped people to resettle, with an app that showed the best areas in Poland to find a new home.  
Place: Brand action where it is needed most 
Disasters can disrupt brand presence in specific locations. But they can also take brands to new places. In the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, Walmart delivered 2,450 truckloads of supplies to help meet the emergency needs of local people. This was a truly heroic gesture. However, brands are rarely the hero in consumer’s lives, so comms should always focus on being in service to consumers in need.  
Brands use place as part of their heritage narrative, but consumer distrust often sets in when the same brands distance themselves from the world around them. When disaster strikes a brand’s location, it bursts this bubble, revealing the impact on its people and assets. The decision as to whether to stay or leave is not always clear-cut. As in the case of the Ukraine war, the question of who suffers by your departure must be weighed against who benefits by remaining.
Promotion: Telling climate stories 
If the first three Ps are the short-term response, promotion is ‘the long of it’. It’s how you tell your climate stories. Most companies are broadly comfortable talking about ‘reducing emissions’. This is ‘mitigation’, but it is only one half of what needs to happen on climate. The other half is ‘adaptation’ – preparing for the consequences of change that’s too late to avoid, eg this summer’s heatwaves. Brands are afraid of telling this story in case it looks like they’re giving up on mitigation. 

And in a climate of right-wing backlash and (much needed) new rules on greenwash, avoiding adaptation stories is perhaps unsurprising. But ‘green hushing’ in a climate crisis can be just as irresponsible. So what’s the right approach? We live in a moment that is simultaneously the best and worst of times. Technological solutions are breaking through, yet emissions remain stubbornly high. Only a balanced message can reflect the reality: we’re in trouble, but hope remains, if we act.

Many in the marketing community are fond of arguing that marketing never changes. The fundamentals are timeless and the principles constant. What has changed, however, is the context. We’re in a world where climate change is no longer a problem for the future, it’s here now. The question then, is not if climate change is part of your brand story, but how, where and when it will become part of your business reality. 
Aug 22, 2023
Alan Bryant
Brands have a unique opportunity to support women’s football
England didn’t win the Women’s World Cup but for the fans it’s about more than the game itself. Revolt’s Alan Bryant delves into new research about the culture of women’s football fandom.
Being a fan is about more than just the game
For women’s football, being a fan is about more than the game itself. It’s also about supporting the progress of women in sport and society. Of course the action that takes place on the field remains the main attraction, but being a fan is deeper than this alone: 50% of respondents said that being a fan of women’s football is a key part of their identity, with only 17% disagreeing with this statement. 

This unique culture in women’s football led many respondents to say they did not want the women’s game to be compared with other football games or leagues. And while they want fan numbers to increase, they want to make sure this progress happens without changing what’s special about the game. Brands have a key role to play in enhancing all that is unique about women’s football and leaning into the inclusivity that is shown within fandom. 

The research revealed that fandom in women’s football is surprisingly different from other sports. The majority of fandom exists outside of stadiums – only 16% of fans go to see live games. In contrast, 31% of fans watch the games online, with younger fans seeking out players and engaging with them directly on TikTok.

Similarly, the way that fans support the game doesn’t always follow the patterns of more well-established sports. Of course you still have die-hard club fans, but many fans focus their support on the international team alone, with 69% of UK fans surveyed supporting the national team versus only 8% for the Women’s Super League (WSL); still others take the approach of supporting certain players over clubs. Here, Revolt identified significant opportunities for brands to grow the depth of fandom beyond the national team. 
Fans are looking for more human stories
There is also a clear appetite for more in-depth, human stories of the players, who have become idols and heroes. Brands have an opportunity to use their platforms to tell more of those stories, revealing players’ personalities – on and off the pitch – and connecting fans to them on a deeper level. Critical to this will be involving fans in the football narratives. Fans are the heart of the women’s game, so brands shouldn’t look to progress the game without them.

However, there are still obvious challenges in the game that need to be addressed. When asked what is holding people back from being fans, a ‘lack of access’ was noted by more than half of respondents (54%). Location of WSL stadiums, kick-off times, and a difficult user experience when buying tickets were all highlighted as key challenges that need to be overcome. And while there is commitment to being open and inclusive, fans pointed out that women’s football can appear at times to be predominantly associated with middle-class and white demographics. Brands can use their scale and expertise to help tackle different challenges that fans clearly believe are holding back the women’s game.

Fandom in women’s football is vibrant, inclusive, and actively kind and open. Brands looking to play into this, need to be in it for the long game. Don’t just show up every two to four years for the big tournaments, but support the game to grow when others disappear. Support fans and players from international level down to the grassroots. Do that and people will recognise and you’ll become synonymous with playing a positive role in the game.

*Qualitative research was conducted by Open Revolt with experts on the women’s game and leading fans, together with quantitative research of 500 fans across the UK. Open Revolt is part network, part process. The network is a database of specialists and organisations that bring expertise, experience and empathy. 
Aug 07, 2023
Olly Lawder
Cannes Review 2023
With the awards done and dusted, our team has trawled through the entries and cut through the commentary to bring you the best of purpose done properly.
With the awards done and dusted, our team has trawled through the entries and cut through the commentary to bring you the best of purpose done properly. Cannes has long been a hotbed for purpose. To date, winning a coveted lion has meant bringing your best heartstring-pulling and tear-jerking game. Impact, however, hasn’t always been as important as it should be.

Though we’re yet to see a real step up in impact measurement, 2023 saw a shift in how entrants positioned their work. From a focus on creativity for its own sake to efficacy and real-world impact moving up the agenda, entries increasingly delivered meaningful change and commercial success. It was also a BIG year for diversity with the downturn in the number of entries focused on environmental fights.

With a renewed regulatory push on greenwash, this is not surprising and we expect to see a rebound in the years ahead.

To discover more, download and read the full report here.

Contact us if you’d like to learn more and we’ll present our ‘Cannes digest’ to you at your offices or via Zoom.
Jul 14, 2023
Alex Lewis
Why brands must support positive online behavior in younger audiences
Alex Lewis of purpose consultancy Revolt takes a hard look at damning stats around the harm done by social media to younger audiences – and the clear opportunity for brands to contribute to change.
LOgging off?
Last year, The Log Off movement was started by two students in the US. It addresses the nuanced issues of a digital age through its podcast, leadership council, and education program, where teens talk about their experiences, educate legislators, and push for safer online experiences. The movement set up the Detox Challenge in a bid to reduce daily screentime by 50%.

Also in 2022, TikTok influencer Lewis Leigh saw a massive spike in TikTok followers after posting footage of him dancing with his elderly grandmother. He used the moment to launch an Ofcom-backed campaign called ‘OnlyNans’ to encourage youngsters to report harmful content that would offend their grandmothers.

Celebrities who have experienced the negative effects of social media have also been motivated to take action, like footballer Rio Ferdinand’s documentary Tipping Point, and AFL star Adam Goodes’s partnership with WeAre8, a social media platform promoting positive content.
But tackling the negative impacts of social media while preserving free speech (and all that’s good about the platforms) is difficult. Governments are currently wrestling with the deep complexities of regulating global tech companies and cross-border social media activity. In the UK, the Online Safety Bill, which requires all tech firms in scope to protect children from harmful content, passed its third reading in the House of Commons in January. In the US, the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) is in progress.

Ultimately, there’s a tension that we must navigate as a society, riding a line between the negatives and positives of social media. But navigate this we must. Brands have a real opportunity to be part of the fight, particularly in supporting young people and helping with the movement toward positive social behavior.

The evidence suggests that brands that actively support young people are more likely to increase their appeal to younger generations. Research from Cubist Martini found that 65% of gen Z will spend 48% more on average for products from a purpose-driven business.

Arguably, the brand fight is not about boycotting platforms. This happened in 2018 when ads were being placed beside hateful content on YouTube. Brands rightly pulled campaigns, but this was predominantly about brand safety.

Nor is it, necessarily, about quitting social media. Brands that have very publicly quit social media, such as Wetherspoons, often do so more for commercial reasons than for purposeful action.
Choose your battle
For brands, there are two areas of positive, purposeful action; two fights they can be part of.

The first is direct action in supporting young people on social media and helping to tackle the issue of online harm. Dove has been at the forefront of this with its high-profile activity supporting the positive representation of young people online. As part of its Self-Esteem Project, the brand launched a campaign emphasizing the importance of legislative action in safeguarding young people from the harmful effects of social media.

Some brands are getting actively involved with international initiatives aimed at tackling online harm, particularly tech and platform providers. For this year’s Safer Internet Day (running for 20 years, across 180 countries) Apple promoted its tools to help families and keep children safe online. And as part of our Barefoot Computing program in partnership with Computing at School, BT launched an interactive game to help teach children about the risks of online scams through play. There are clear opportunities for brands not commercially involved in the online space to support Safer Internet Day and other similar initiatives.

The second fight focuses on actively supporting young people’s mental health. Drugstore Superdrug is tackling misleading health information on social media. Its research found that a total of 424,000,000 minutes’ worth of misinformed or misleading health content is being viewed every day. Rare Beauty, founded by singer Selena Gomez, set up the Rare Impact Fund, a non-profit organization with the mission of raising $100m for youth mental health.

For Mental Health Awareness Week, UK fast fashion brand Boohoo partnered with a neuropsychologist to create a seven-day ‘self-love’ plan to boost customers’ confidence. And personal care brand Nivea launched a campaign focused on destigmatizing men’s mental health, called ‘Strength in Numbers’.

Tackling online harm and protecting young people from all the negative impacts of social media is a huge and very challenging undertaking. It requires governments to take action with legislation and tech companies to respond with necessary measures and protections.

There are big opportunities for brands to play a very active role in the important fights to protect young people online and to support their mental health.
Jul 11, 2023
Alex Lewis
The Purpose Transformation
20 years ago a digital transformation began. What started as a channel soon morphed into a mindset. Successful businesses embraced this transformation in every aspect, in from their supply chains to their marketing. Today the same evolution is happening with the advent of Purpose.
Why Purpose is both opportunity and obligation
The boardroom has its own culture war—Purpose. Those stoking the debate rarely arrive without an agenda, whether it’s an investor demanding change, a journalist chasing headlines or a leader seeking profile.

Most of the arguments from both sides ignore the complexity of corporate reputation and brand building. The fact is purpose can be both an effective tool and a distracting exercise. Purpose isn’t the enemy, but the polarity of the analysis most certainly is.

Of course, we’ve been here before. In the early naughties a debate raged in the marketing community about a new fad—digital. Clients, creatives and commentators were quick to proclaim the emerging channels as both saint and sinner.

We all know what happened over the next 20 years as digital moved from being a channel to a tactic to a mindset that no business was immune to. Which isn’t to say there weren’t plenty of losers along the way. But its significance and permanence is reinforced by the fact digital transformation has sat as the number one concern of both CEO’s and CMO’s for years.

Purpose transformation should be seen in a similar light; a threat and an opportunity that can’t be ignored. The winners will be those that know how and when to apply it by recognising three things.
1. Business Purpose isn’t optional.
The British Academy defines Purpose ‘producing profitable solutions from tackling the problems of people and planet, whilst not profiting from creating them’. Much of the debate has focussed on the first half of this statement, where purpose is seen as equally responsible for breakneck growth or underwhelming performance depending on your persuasion.

But it’s just as much the second half of that definition that ensures purpose is here to stay. As our society’s values evolve, and as our environmental threats intensify, we will see that Purpose isn’t a phase. And the demands of stakeholders, employees and investors are enough to ensure that certain ESG standards are no longer negotiable.
2. Brand Purpose very much is.
Conversely, adopting a brand Purpose isn’t mandatory. It’s best viewed as a strategic choice that should be adopted if Purpose is judged as an effective tactic to drive growth. That means understanding whether that positive impact can drive more reach, create more powerful emotions, build more memorable assets or get the brand more noticed.

Choosing not build a brand through Purpose does not make it unethical. There remain certain standards of inclusivity and sustainability that every brand should subscribe to, and just because many of these commitments aren’t visible to consumers doesn’t mean they shouldn’t adopted.

3. Purpose has to be done properly.
Conviction in a Purpose led approach can’t come at the expense of business fundamentals. Purpose won’t solve every challenge (just as it shouldn’t be used as the scapegoat for poor performance when other factors are at play). Successful application comes down to a rigour and responsibility that asks not just whether Purpose is the right tool, but how that tool should applied. Is it:

Evidence based. How do we know this Purpose creates positive associations with our audience? Brand led. How do we apply this Purpose through the unique lens of our brand? Impact driven. Have we made a measurable different that justifies our communications?

Not every business and brand that makes positive impact part of their operations will reap the benefits. Just as we have seen throughout the digital revolution, the era of Purpose transformation will see many expensively assembled mistakes along the way. The winners will be those with the foresight to grab the opportunity and the veracity to ensure it’s seized the right way.
Jul 07, 2023
Ren Balogun
Can ChatGPT convince us to go green?
How green is ChatGPT? And could it actually be useful in the fight against climate collapse? Ren Balogun of purpose-specialist Revolt puts the AI to the test.
The ‘intention-action gap’
Despite nearly six in 10 consumers saying they are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact, this is not reflected in actual behavior. This is called the intention-action gap.
While a big chunk of the responsibility lies on businesses and governments to take climate action, individual and household actions have the potential to produce roughly 25-30% of the total emissions reductions needed to mitigate climate change.

AI enables businesses and governments to take that action, but marketers can also play a crucial role in bridging the intention-action gap by effectively communicating and inspiring consumers to make sustainable choices, like promoting climate-conscious products and campaigns that encourage behavior change.
The test
We wanted to see if we could use AI to help bridge this gap. So, we set up an AI test using ChatGPT. The developers of ChatGPT have spoken about the safety parameters built into the AI tool. Protocols like ensuring it isn’t racist. But we want to see how much of the platform is built to be a force for good, to help bridge the gap between intention and action.
We started by creating three personas based on demographic and attitudinal data that outlines the way people live, act, and view sustainability. We ran two tests: one with personas that didn’t include any explicit sustainability attitudes, and one test with explicit attitudes towards sustainability.

Taking guidance from global climate strategy Project Drawdown, we identified different scenarios people might encounter which we used as a framework to create questions for ChatGPT to advise us on.
Our test wasn’t so much about directly asking ChatGPT about the sustainable actions we can take, but a test of whether it thinks about sustainability when providing its responses. And to ensure we didn’t build any bias into the work, we undertook the test many times on different ChatGPT accounts, to identify any big-picture patterns. 

We quickly saw that ChatGPT struggles to tailor content based on demographic information. The safeguards help it avoid making assumptions based on demographics, but also restrict its effectiveness in translating big-picture concepts into actionable and tailored marketing content.
Getting personal
Sustainable behaviors don’t come naturally to the AI language model. However, when you explicitly input the sustainability attitudes of your personas, i.e., “I try to remain optimistic about the future but I’m conscious of the ever-looming climate crisis ”, you get tailored results linked directly to sustainability actions and messaging you might use in your communications.

ChatGPT will often pump out a variety of (not always very inspiring) actions consumers could take in their daily lives. But once we mention our audiences’ attitudes around sustainability, the actions it recommended ultimately ended up having more of a sustainability focus to them (albeit at a superficial level).

The questions it asked back were generic, e.g., ‘Let me know the specific areas where you seek guidance. The more details you can provide, the better I can assist you’.

We were interested to see that it often led to the benefits of sustainable behaviors, like time and cost savings. But across all our tests, ChatGPT failed to pull on the emotional levers such as our values, children and family.

With more fine-tuning of the personas and refining of the questions, it might be possible to get more from ChatGPT. As a platform that can produce 10+ sustainable behaviors with a single click, it’s certainly helpful for shortcutting a generic Google search. But in terms of consumer insights, innovative actions, and relatable content? There are real limitations.
Here are four key considerations.
1. Think carefully about what you put in
The AI tool really does hang off every word that you use, so use words carefully and sparingly. Think about the information that is critical to the job at hand and write your prompts accordingly. 
2. Use ChatGPT as a strategic sparring partner
We found it extremely helpful to come up with ‘areas’ to explore and to help us refine the brief. Just remember that ChatGPT doesn’t substitute thorough research. Go back and forth with a number of different ways in, and always challenge the tool to give you 10+ themes, answers, responses or suggestions. 
3. It’s a toybox, not a toolkit
ChatGPT is a digital playground to quickly test, learn and explore a breadth of ways into a single idea.

Think creatively about how you want to get to what you are looking for. Don’t rely on it to answer your questions accurately, but use it to explore various different approaches to getting to the content you need. Its ability to reflect different personas and tones of voice makes it a valuable tool. 
4. Don’t stop at the first result
As good as it might seem, 90% of ChatGPT’s responses were plain, no different to a basic Google search. Don’t be afraid to use the ‘regenerate response’ button a few times to fine-tune the prompts.
May 02, 2023
Alex Lewis
Everything, Everywhere, All at Once
The sixth and most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report alarmingly concluded that while there are “multiple, feasible and effective options” to reduce global emissions, the world is currently well off-track and to hammer the message home the UN General Secretary Antonio Gutierrez declared, “Our world needs climate action, on all fronts. Everything, everywhere, all at once”. 
1) Make the tangible intangible to connect with consumers in a powerful, emotional way that they will understand.
“We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.”

Climate change presents specific challenges to marketers and to marketing communication. It’s abstract – you can’t see the responsible gases and you can’t picture 421 parts per million CO2. It’s often distant and it’s counterintuitive – a three-degree rise on an average day might be negligible or even welcome, but as a planetary average it’s devastating. 

Marketers looking to take on the climate change challenge in their communications, need to paint vivid relatable images of the situation we face. Make the complex simple and the abstract tangible. Capturing the urgency of the situation is critical. It’s at the heart of sales – urgency and scarcity are the two levers that can move people to ‘buy now’. There are some great examples of brands getting this right. Ben & Jerry’s visualised the shrinking ice caps as melting ice cream, and Apple made its simple climate change promise to a baby.
2) Be unapologetic in the face of pushback
The truly dangerous radicals are those that increase fossil fuel production

This is a fight, an argument that needs to be won. And this is as it should be in a democracy. Engaging with different voices is part of getting to the best solution, and there is never change without pushback. If your brand is set on making a better world, you’re going to have to challenge the status quo. Double down and push back. Identify the cost of not changing and stay true to your cause.

Marketers must expect some resistance. The key here is to know how to stand your ground, as Mars CEO Poul Weihrauch did recently when, in the face of anti-ESG sentiment in the US, he said publicly that purpose and profit are not enemies and dismissed politicised discussions about purpose as “nonsense”. So, go on the offensive as Gutierrez has and make the absurdity of your opponent’s position clear to all those watching. 
3) Offer consumers meaningful choices and help them understand the impact of the decisions they make.
Humanity has a choice, cooperate or perish

The choices we make can contribute to action on climate change. According to the IPCC report, up to 5% of all demand-side carbon emission reductions lie in the hands of individuals, and most of what’s left is in the gift of the companies they choose to work for or the governments they choose to vote for. And surveys indicate that the public are willing to play an active role in change – a recent report from McKinsey said that 60% of consumers would pay more for a product with sustainable packaging. 

So the challenge for marketers is to help consumers make the right choice by setting out the facts clearly, and where possible offer comparisons. Make climate change a reason to believe and a reason to choose your brand or your business. Link that choice to what you stand for – an expression of your purpose or values that prompts an emotional response to buy. Fashion brand Asket is doing this with its Full
Transparency commitment: “Every cent, every ounce of CO2, every process accounted for”.
4) Paint a vision and take people on a journey
Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st Century

No brand is perfect, so how do you talk about your progress without greenwashing? Have a clear sense of where you’re headed, a vision for the better world you want to create and an understanding of why it matters that you get there. The trick here is to have something to run towards, not just something to run away from. Vision statements can be fairly flat and generic, but their role is to create something worth striving for. What does it feel like, what does it look like when we get to where we’re going? When that’s understood the big heavy task of change will feel worthwhile. CO2-absorbing alternative to concrete Partanna has set out a clear vision with its commitment to ‘Build a world that breathes’.
5) Focus on the emotional hooks to engage your audiences
Ask your sustainability team how they are feeling today

Sustainability teams spend a lot of their time making rational choices about where to best spend resource. Get past their rational analysis and you’ll find the emotional hooks to engage your audiences with. Marketers know that if they want to tap into the spirit of the moment, they need to talk to their audiences. With the sustainability team, you have your own mini focus group in house. Chances are there’s no one more connected to the highs and lows of trying to change the world. And more companies today – Bayer, VW, Nestlé,  Unilever for example – also have sustainability advisory councils, which can provide greater insights into how best to connect emotionally with consumers on this complex and abstract issue. 

The IPCC’s report should be seen as a rallying cry for everybody – governments, corporates and citizens alike – to step up and play their parts in tackling climate change. Through their trusted relationships with large audiences, brands have a fantastic opportunity to help the world move faster. Paint a clear and simple vision, focus on the emotional hooks, take people on your journey and help them to make meaningful choices.
Apr 13, 2023
Alex Lewis
How the cost-of-living crisis is impacting cause-related marketing
The cost-of-living crisis is becoming the leading ‘cause’ for consumers. Alex Lewis, Co-Founder of Revolt, shares the issues that matter in 2023 and explains how brands can shift their corporate behaviour and marketing to provide simple solutions that make a difference.
Mar 10, 2023
Nick O’Quinn
Finding purpose in progress: how to drive emotional engagement with tech innovations
Following work to market a carbon-absorbing material, Nick O’Quinn of purpose consultancy Revolt dwells on how to position innovations with dreams of changing the future.
1. From complexity to clarity
New technology is often complex; communicating its potential even more so. It’s often built on clever science, reliant on foundational knowledge of a problem, or saturated with diverse and revelatory benefits. Take Revolt client Partanna, for example, a building material that absorbs carbon.

It absorbs carbon throughout its lifetime, and it minimizes emissions by utilizing waste materials from other industries in a process that requires no heat. Its one-surface prefabricated manufacturing process lends itself to building efficient, affordable housing, fast. And given the fact it gets stronger with salt water, Partanna presents a powerful solution for building climate-resilient homes in the coastal communities most vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate.

There’s a lot there. The key to finding human resonance is to be focused: to navigate through complexity, make a choice about your most relevant message, and deliver it with clarity. Apple has been masterful at this – choosing a single product feature to hero and unlocking the human stories that can bring it to life.

Working with Revolt, Partanna focused on the single most revelatory function: its ability to absorb carbon. This single-minded focus laid the foundations for how it could be powerfully brought to life.
2. From function to flair
When innovation has genuinely transformational functionality, it’s tempting to simply say what it is. But the key is to remember to make people feel something. Creativity is our industry’s superpower for elevating a brand message into something memorable.
Oatly’s ‘It’s like milk but made for humans’ is a great example. How to introduce the world to milk made from oats? Not only does it reframe our perceptions of cows’ milk (and in doing so completely reposition an entire category); it finds humour and human resonance in what is ultimately the juice squeezed from a seed.

Back to the Partanna example, its ability to absorb carbon is compelling, but it doesn’t absorb carbon through magic but through simple chemical exchange. The challenge is to find a human way to explain it. The exciting elevation comes in reframing Partanna from ‘a material that absorbs carbon’ to ‘a material that breathes’. It’s a metaphor for the most human exchange there is: bringing flair to function and making it feel both more relevant and resonant.
3. From innovation to inspiration
With innovation, it’s tempting to only focus on the ‘what’. Not least because its raison d’être is that it brings a brand new ‘what’ into the world. But the bigger potential lies in the inspirational ‘why’ that can guide not only what you do now, but where you’re heading too. Tesla doesn’t make electric cars; it exists to ‘accelerate the advent of sustainable transport’. It’s the radical (albeit, at times, dangerously delusional) ambition of Musk’s vision that elevated Tesla into a pioneer that defined an entire category.

For Partanna, their narrative could have stopped at the articulation of what it is, but the real excitement lies in pushing further. Because Partanna isn’t just creating a material that breathes; it is ‘Building a World That Breathes’. This vision talks about the idea of a new world as much as it talks about the material with which we can build it, ushering in a new urban era against the backdrop of a suffocating planet. It’s a dream of a world where there is greater harmony between our built environments and our natural ones. Where both people and the planet are able to thrive.

Any new technology can feel shiny and exciting, especially for the people who created it. When that innovation has the potential to fundamentally change the world for the better, you could be forgiven for thinking it sells itself. But the usual rules of marketing still apply. Innovation is nothing without the powerfully human storytelling that can bring it to life. Technology is nothing without humanity. Progress is nothing without purpose.
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