4 Key Takeaways from PRWeek PRDecoded: Purpose Principles

Oct 22, 2019 4:30 PM ET

Cone Insights

This week, the Porter Novelli team headed to Chicago for the annual PRWeek PRDecoded conference, contributing to two days of conversation fully dedicated to Purpose. The event brought together C-suite and agency thought leaders to lead a conversation on how to deliver Purpose communications with strength, conviction, authenticity – and maximum impact. The conference featured a series of thought-provoking discussions on some of the most notable Purpose campaigns over the last few years from brands like Nike, Always, State Street, Levi’s and more. Here, we’ve highlighted four key ideas and moments that stood out to us from the event:

  • Gen Z Will Be Calling the Shots: Duncan Wardle, former head of innovation and creativity at Disney, kicked off the conference with session on creativity and spoke about the driving forces in our industry. While in the past business was guided by Wall Street, Duncan purported that soon, Wall Street will be threatened by Gen Z – and that generation will guide and drive business strategy. And more than any other generation, this one is propelled by Purpose – from what they buy to where they want to work.

  • Purpose Delivers Profit: In an afternoon session, Kelly McGinnis and Jen Sey, CCO and CMO of Levi Strauss & Co, shared key insights into how the company rediscovered its Purpose – and how Purpose continues to deliver return for the business. They revealed that Levi’s Purpose-driven ads deliver a $4 profit return per dollar spent. And in fact, Sey shared that CEO Chip Bergh often touts that the year Levi’s was most active in sharing its Purpose messaging was also the company’s most successful year in decades.

  • Evolution to Frictionless Giving: A fireside chat between Porter Novelli CEO Brad MacAfee and Comic Relief USA* CEO Alison Moore unpacked how to inspire and drive action in a multi-platform world. Moore discussed the concept of “frictionless giving,” to make giving “easy and seamless.” Comic Relief USA employed this concept for its tentpole campaign, Red Nose Day, by harnessing digital platforms like Twitch and Tiltify, as well as a partnership with Amazon’s Alexa.

  • Staying Silent Isn’t Always the Less Risky Option: A fireside chat between PRWeek editorial director Steve Barrett and United Airlines CCO Josh Earnest on “Navigating Through Turbulence: Managing a Crisis Guided by Purpose,” shared a key insight: even around divisive issues, “not acting is not always the least risky step.” Earnest shared that when consumers noticed U.S. immigration officers transporting immigrants via commercial airlines, during a time of increased family border separations, the brand knew it needed to respond – even if the company’s stance would be contentious. The airline quickly contacted law enforcement to voice its concerns about the policy and partnered with a nonprofit reuniting separated families. While the inclination may have been to stay away from the issue, Earnest noted, the less risky move was actually to be proactive and in alignment with the organization’s values and Purpose of connecting people and uniting the world.   

The sessions and conversations throughout this year’s PRWeek PRDecoded conference affirmed one key message: Purpose is here to stay. And leading brands are all leaning-in on Purpose to better connect with both consumers and employees on the issues and values they care about, all while creating sustainable growth for the future.

*Porter Novelli/Cone client

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