Marketers Speak to the Power of Purpose at the Cannes Lions

By MaryLee Sachs
Aug 10, 2018 9:00 AM ET
Andrew Clarke, chief marketing and customer officer, Mars Inc., on Wake Up With The Economist panel, June 19, 2018 Image credit: Forbes

Originally appeared in Forbes

Once upon a time, the concept of “purpose” was de rigueur at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. It was threaded through just about every conversation, panel and presentation. Increasingly, that required conversation has shifted to gender equality, diversity and inclusion. That doesn’t mean that purpose has taken a back seat, but the discussion around purpose has been modified and when it’s discussed, the examples appear more meaningful, transparent, and true to an organization’s DNA.

As Andrew Clarke, chief marketing and customer officer at Mars, said on a panel at Cannes, “I think you can argue purpose two ways. You can argue very clearly that it's a trend that's here to stay, that's going to be part of the business, that's going to drive business. Or you can argue that it's a fad, and everyone's jumping on the bandwagon and it's not particularly authentic.”

There are some great examples of both. But as Clarke pointed out, “there’s some bad examples of purpose which are faddish” as well. “But done properly, and the key is authenticity, I think you can make a real difference.” He referenced an initiative launched by Mars at the Cannes Lions aptly named “The Lion’s Share” with The United Nations Development Programme(UNDP). The fund will support various animal welfare and conservation programs implemented by the UNDP. As Clarke said in the announcement, “The Lion’s Share is exactly the sort of ambitious initiative we need to take in order to ensure we foster a healthy planet on which everyone – including animals – can thrive. For Mars, it’s another step in living the commitments of our ‘Sustainable in a Generation plan.’

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