OWM warns marketers that supporting a social purpose is essential for survival
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The predominant theme of this year’s OWM Summit organised by the German Advertising Association was how doing good socially can translate into increased profits and added value for consumers. Rather than encouraging brands to rush to adopt an all-encompassing, purpose-driven strategy, the emphasis was on integrating purpose organically into the brand’s narrative to maintain authenticity and relevance.
The OWM urged marketers in attendance to embrace imperfections and transparency and warned that dismissing the incredible potential for growth in purpose-driven marketing is economically naïve. Quoting the Edelman Trust Barometer, they found that over 76% of 33,000 interviewees have greater faith in the CEOs of companies than politicians when it comes to affecting positive change and that purposeful brands met on average 137% better KPIs than those unengaged in the discourse of purpose.
OWM Chairman Uwe Storch stated that: “Consumers today are more informed, enlightened, and demanding than ever and they are saturated. In fact, they have everything, need less and therefore expect more – from companies, products, and their communication” The question of attitude, responsibility, and universal purpose must involve all companies”.
Clara Mayer, the face of the Greta Thunberg-founded ‘Fridays for Future’ movement in Germany, said: “Large companies have the responsibility to behave better. It is unacceptable that environment and climate-damaging behaviour is glossed over by advertising. The pressure on these companies must increase, both from the public as well as from politicians, until such malicious behaviour ceases. Until then, distortive advertising must not be allowed to impede mounting public pressure on these companies.”
In a survey conducted by the association in September, 78% of member companies said that they are already taking a stance on a current issue. Of those members, 85% said that they were tackling sustainability, 59% climate change, 50% diversity, and 41% gender more specifically. OWM reiterated that to be truly effective, such initiatives need to be part of a long-term journey and companies need to invest in communications to increase consumer awareness of their activities.
Accompanying the summit, OWM released a report, ‘Purpose: From Buzz to Business’, based on qualitative remote interviews and focus groups, the results of which were then validated by an online survey targeted at Gen Z consumers.