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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:
Even in strong economic times, employment remains a concern for many individuals. In fact, our 2018 Purpose Study found that domestic job growth was the number one issue Americans wanted companies to address – superseding topics like access to healthcare and cost of higher education. Now, one company is tackling unemployment that is prevalent in a specific industry – creating job training and career-focused opportunities for young workers.
CSR reporting reached an all-time high this year with 86 percent of companies in the S&P 500 publishing reports.. It’s no surprise that with reporting becoming more mainstream, companies are increasingly looking for ways to break through the noise and standout. Here are the top ten trends we’re seeing this reporting season:
As individuals have more options of where to shop and what to support, increasingly, they are looking to purchase from brands they feel reflect who they are and the values they support. And companies are taking notice. Now, more brands are creating product and service options that answer to consumer demands and mirror the society we live in – including eschewing traditional gender definitions. Case in point: the company behind Barbie – one of the most iconic, and gendered, toys in recent history – is breaking gender barriers in the name of inclusivity.
Last week, young people from all over the world marched to shed light on the urgency of climate change, with “climate strikes” in over 150 countries. Several brands, like Ben & Jerry’s*, Patagonia, Seventh Generation and Lush supported these demonstrations by encouraging customers and employees to participate in their local marches. This set the stage as leaders from around the world convened for Climate Week 2019 and the United Nations General Assembly, which kicked off in New York City on Monday, September 23rd.
With the United Nations announcing earlier this year that we only have 11 years to prevent irreversible damage from climate change, the urgency to address environmental issues is reaching new heights. In response, companies are announcing increasingly aggressive targets while—at the same time—communicating progress to-date. Yet, even as 86 percent of S&P 500 Index Companies now publish sustainability reports, the process for compiling the data included in the reports can be complex and arduous. Now, one company is putting its leading cloud-based software behind sustainability reporting in an effort to create further transparency, engagement and ultimately, advancement.
Recycling presents a unique challenge for both company and consumer. Although 74 percent of Americans say recycling is important and should be made a priority, 62 percent worry a lack of knowledge is causing them to recycle incorrectly. Research shows that knowledge gap does exist, with over half (53%) of respondents erroneously believing greasy pizza boxes can be recycled. Now, one company is taking a unique approach to not only educate young people on recycling habits, but make it the fun and cool thing to do.
This week, Americans watched with bated breath as Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas and skirted along the southeastern coast of the U.S. We’re no strangers to severe weather – on the contrary, more than a handful of storms have devastated coastal communities over the last several years and a study from ServiceMaster Restore* revealed that half of Americans (52%) think they are more at risk now for a severe storm now than in past years.
There’s no question the biggest trend in Purpose communications over the past 24 months has been companies taking stands on hot-button social justice issues. We’ve seen companies advocate for topics such as immigration and refugees, racial equality, LGBTQ rights and more. And some bolder organizations have even chosen to go head to head with the president on policies directly. Yet, most companies choose areas that are mainstream in the news or trending topics on social. Few go against the grain, taking on problems that have far less visibility. The latest campaign from Ben & Jerry’s does just that.
As something they touch and feel every day, consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the clothes they wear, and the practices used to create them. Indeed, attention on sustainable fashion is on the rise – with research showing a 47 percent increase in “shoppers looking for items that have ethical and style credentials with terms such as ‘vegan leather’ and ‘organic cotton.’” Now, one retailer is making it even easier for consumers to shop – and dress – in alignment with their values.
This week marks an exciting and transformational milestone in the world of Purpose – and in business.
Out of concern for the implications plastics have for the environment, there has been a growing movement among cities and states to regulate the use of single-use plastic bags. As the public sector launches policy initiatives to prevent the environmental hazard caused by plastics, more and more companies are proactively stepping up to address the issue. Brands like Walmart, IKEA, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market have all banned single-use plastic bags or implemented other efforts to promote sustainable shopping habits.
In a world where some sustainability challenges seem almost too large or too complex to solve, tackling issues can seem like a herculean task. And yet, the concept of scale is a mighty one – and the decisions of one large company can help change the course on a grand scale. Take Walmart’s commitment to only sell concentrated liquid laundry detergent. Not only did this impact more than 800 million units sold within a three-year period; it also shifted an entire industry to pursue concentrate as well. Now another corporate goliath is changing its approach to design with an eye towards sustainable innovation.
As tech companies continue to become a fixture in many U.S. cities, the juxtaposition between the fast-paced growth, high-rises and even higher salaries can be difficult to fathom next to the growing homelessness problem many of these same cities face. A recent L.A. Times article shared how homelessness in Los Angeles is on the rise – up 16 percent over last year in the city. Now, two companies are looking to assuage the issue in the communities they operate in.
Last week, Target* announced its newest line of adaptive clothing – this collection features Halloween costumes for kids with disabilities. The line, part of the Hyde and Eek! Boutique, includes four disability-friendly costumes – two aimed at children who use wheelchairs and two costumes featuring sensory-friendly features and materials meant to help kids with sensitives.
Last week, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) made world history in becoming the first team to win four Women’s World Cup Titles. Yet, even as the team battled for the Cup on the field, they also fought for equal pay off the field – and the win only raised awareness and increased conversation around the pay disparity between female and male players. Now, a major brand is stepping in to support, lending its marketing platform and dollars to the cause.
When a child receives a cancer diagnosis, their life as they know it – as well as their entire family’s – is put on hold, while treatment takes over as the family’s #1 priority. These children and families affected by childhood cancer are jolted into, and forced to adapt to, a new reality in which they often find themselves lacking the emotional support, and a genuine understanding of what they’re going through, that they need. Because these families are now typically spending more time in the hospital than their own homes, completely stripped of normalcy, sometimes all they want is one day away from their new reality.
With summer in full swing, many kids are enjoying the outdoors, time with family and, freedom from the classroom. But, with school on pause, young children can experience what is called the “summer slide” – a decline in reading ability and other academic skills during the summer months. While many brands focus on back-to-school as a moment in time to help kids in need, one company is taking a different approach – tackling a season-specific issue through meeting kids where they are, all summer long.
As Pride Month draws to a close, we saw many brands step up to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community in a number of ways. This year, it seemed a record number of brands created rainbow-colored products to celebrate inclusion and equality this month – from a rainbow Disney collection of gear to benefit GLSEN to a limited-edition Pride Bud Light triggering donations to GLAAD. And although this support from major brands shows a unified community, a recent article highlighted a need to “get curious” about the unique needs and issues still facing the LGBTQ+ community – and how business can act as a force for change. The most recent move from Mastercard does just that.
Although reports show just 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, consumers themselves must also play a role in reducing their own footprints. Companies are making strides to engage and educate consumers – including through the recently launched #BrandsForGood initiative which aims to shift consumer behavior to drive positive impact. Now, a new consumer-facing initiative aims to reduce individuals’ carbon emissions while also saving them money.
There’s no question plastic has become the sustainability issue of the year. And for good reason, especially as environmental advocates such as Dame Ellen MacArthur warn there will be more plastic than fish in our world’s oceans by 2050. Companies across the spectrum are thinking up new ways to solve for the plastic crisis, from refillable moisturizer pods to graduation caps and gowns made out of recycled plastic bottles. The latest effort not only raises awareness for the severity of the plastic issue, but creates a compelling incentive to collect discarded plastic from streets and oceans.
This week, the Porter Novelli/Cone team headed to Detroit for the annual Sustainable Brands conference, contributing to four days of inspirational conversation around transforming brands through sustainable innovation. The event brought together a diverse group of more than 2,000 passionate thought leaders and change makers to collaboratively address some of the most systemic issues we face on our path to creating a healthy, sustainable future.
What if we told you communicating with Purpose could help your organization break through the clutter? Not just break through – but actually ignite physical reactions like increased attention, heightened arousal and emotion that consumers themselves may not even be aware of. And those physical reactions have a ripple effect. What if we told you Purpose has the undeniable power to create deeper bonds that transform the traditional consumer-company relationship?
Red Nose Day, the annual campaign to end child poverty, may seem new to the cause scene in the U.S., but the national fundraising campaign to end child poverty has already raised nearly $150 million since 2015 (not including this year’s campaign contributions) – impacting more than 16 million children in the U.S. and around the world. Yet, many Americans may not know, Red Nose Day actually launched in the UK 30 years ago and is firmly established as a British institution. Thursday marked the fifth anniversary of the campaign here in the U.S.
From awareness campaigns like Fashion Revolution’s #WhoMadeMyClothes to brand new multi-partner initiatives such as Fashion Futures 2030, the fashion industry has become the focus of a lot of stakeholder attention. Indeed, there is a push from all sides to create more sustainable and transparent solutions for the industry – especially considering it accounts for 20 percent of wastewater and 10 percent of carbon emissions globally. Now a new partnership between two diverse companies aims to provide more insight into retail supply chains for the advancement of the entire industry.
This year, nine billion passengers are expected to fly around the world – and that number is expected to continue to grow. This rise in air traffic will also increase the massive impact it creates on the environment. In fact, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “air transport contributes to 4.9 per cent of human-caused climate change, including emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.” Now, airlines are looking for creative ways to tackle the immense impact of the industry.
Education is perhaps one of the most critical issues facing our country’s future; from workforce development and skills training to interpersonal skills, students are the key to our social and economic success. However, educators and school districts face a multitude of challenges, including limited public funding; insufficient technology; shortages of school supplies and learning materials – just to name a few.
1 billion individuals use Instagram every month – with more than 500 million using the platform on a daily basis. And although much of the content is centered around travel, shopping, experiences and Insta-friendly meals; increasingly, members are taking to online platforms to share their values. Indeed, our 2017 research found 82 percent of Gen Zers use social media to talk about issues they care about. In line with that insight, Instagram has launched a new feature to better enable its members to make an impact on things that matter to them personally.
As issues like climate change, deforestation and water scarcity heat up, so too doe the plight of animals. In fact, there are more than 27,000 species threatened with extinction, according to the IUCN Red List, that is more than 27 percent of all assessed species. To bring awareness to threatened species, brands have been using their marketing bullhorn to share the message.