Even a Cookie can Have a Point of View

Jun 18, 2014 5:35 PM ET
(L-R) B Bonin Bough (Mondelez), Christina Smedley (PayPal), John Mescall (Dumb Ways to Die), Pavni Mittal (CNBC), Quinn Kilbury(Newcastle Brown Ale) & MSLGROUP’s Scott Beaudoin

Even A Cookie Can Have A Point of View

By Scott Beaudoin, Global Practice Director, Corporate & Brand Citizenship, MSLGROUP

There wasn’t a more relevant quote at MSLGROUP’s Brand Purpose, Millennials and the Epic Creative that Engages Them panel discussion at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity Tuesday morning than this one by B. Bonin Bough, VP of Global Media and Consumer Engagement at Mondalez. Bough was referring to the wildly popular Oreo Cookie rainbow creative that supported gay rights. After all, it was the exact purpose of our discussion. Today, brands should have a purposeful point of view in the world and communicate it in creative ways to engage Millennials.

The rise of the Millennial generation has unlocked a new focus on purpose-inspired brand building and epic creative that continues to win once again this year at the festival.

This year’s PR Grand Prix was awarded to Chipotle’s Scarecrow campaign, a genius idea that positions the brand as a sustainable company against big food brands. Brands, like Chipotle that give back to the world continue to win big.

Creative directors welcome this type of higher-end work as it frees them from the mundane task of trying to squeeze out some interest on a new product attribute. Hence, purpose and the epic creative have become the best way to connect with millennials.

On the panel, MSLGROUP was also fortunate to have John Mescall, the mind behind the epic creative Dumb Ways to Die – the most decorated campaign at this festival last year. Spending time with Mescall was like a journey into his mind and a lesson for all of us. Mescall focused on the idea that the only way to get millennials to care, is to give up control and influence a collaborative and co-created process with them. I couldn’t help but think what the original brief looked like from Metro Trains in Melbourne Australia and how a traditional campaign to keep youth off the train tracks would have failed terribly. Millennials would have tuned out the message. What Mescall did was invite millennials into the creative process. What happened next will be covered in marketing courses for years to come.

Millennials are increasingly turning to brands to help enrich their lives and collaborate with them to create a better society. MSLGROUP explored this reality through a 16-country study of 8000+ millennials recently. We found that although Gen Y interact with brands at a functional level, it is now nearly universally acknowledged that many brands mean more to them than the products they represent. Brands unite people; they reflect our human potential and have the resilience and resources to drive societal change.

PayPal’s VP of Global Brand and Communications, Christina Smedley, knows this all too well. She described the company’s strategy to change their business to allow millennials to have a business. PayPal is putting the power in the hands of people. There isn’t a more effective purpose for a brand like PayPal than this.

Quinn Kilbury, Brand Director at Newcastle Brown Ale reminded all of us that brands shouldn’t move too far away from who they are or what they sell when thinking about purpose. When Newcastle Brown Ale took on the purpose of responsible drinking, they did it through an epic idea of providing free cab rides home to pub dwellers where the passengers had to advertise their new beer over a loud speaker in the cab. Kilbury added that millennials can tune out if you focus on social issues that don’t make sense for the brand or done in a way that isn’t on brand equity.

It was clear from the panel discussion that in order to reach Millennials today with brand purpose and epic creative, we must appeal to a confluence of their heads, hearts and hands. As marketers, we are drawn into the emotional side of brand purpose to connect with millennials. But we can’t forget that this generation is very rationale. To appeal to their minds we must remember that brand purpose without actions will only go so far. We must go beyond a point of view in the world and choose purpose-inspired strategies that allow brands to focus on specific actions they can take and ones they can take together with millennials. They want to do it together.