IPL Community & The Power of Purpose


As I type, the Incentive Prize and Loyalty Community are formulating a plan to curate a White Paper around the ‘Rules That COVID Broke’. This initiative will address the changes, some subtle, others not, around how the market has been affected by the pandemic and are we actually seeing any positive actions emerging from it?

One of the 5 points to be addressed is the rise of ‘Purpose’ in our marketing and if COVID has awakened us to the power of purpose?

Purpose in brands and their marketing is no new thing and some brands build their identity around it. Take Toms as a brilliant example of a brand with purpose as part of their very DNA. TOMS popularized ‘Buy One Give One’ (BOGO) cause marketing, for every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS gives a pair of shoes to a child in need. The impact of their drive to change is evident in all they do, not in a one off campaign.

Recently Visa released its latest advert encouraging the public to shop local this holiday season, the second year they’ve taken this stance. So far this year, Visa has committed to help eight million small businesses get online and adapt to the “new normal” of the coronavirus pandemic.

Justine Clement, a member of the Incentive, Prize and Loyalty Community adds, “I really like the ’Shop Local’ message Visa has built their latest campaign around. American Express has been doing something similar for a while now, encouraging cardholders to support local shops and in return, receiving money back for doing so. As a certified B Corp, supporting your local community is a hugely important part of the assessment requirements we need to measure and adopt. The B Corp Community Impact Area evaluates your company’s contribution to the economic and social well-being of the communities in which it operates, through topics such as diversity and inclusion, job creation, civic engagement and philanthropy, supply chain management, and more. At present, as human beings the world over, we’re travelling less and possibly shopping less, which is, of course, having a major impact on smaller, local businesses. So, Visa supporting this problem area and pointing people to remind them that they have so much already on their doorsteps, rather than always turning to Amazon, is purposeful in many ways. Whether an ad like this has that much impact, I cannot say, but it’s a huge nod to show that they are at least thinking about these things and making people aware is the first step to changing habits. In my opinion, huge brands such as Visa have a responsibility to help change habits in this new era of change, uncertainty and connection, and it’s great to see them stepping up.”

Alex Weller, European Marketing Director for outdoor apparel company Patagonia was recently interviewed for Marketing Week about how the recent US election result will benefit their brand’s dedication to combatting the global climate crisis. Patagonia is widely considered one of the world’s most purposeful brands. Since 1985, the company has pledged 1% of its sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment, awarding well in excess of $89m to grassroots environmental groups.

It recently stitched ‘Vote the Assholes Out’ into pairs of its ‘Stand Up Shorts’ as a call to remove all politicians from office who take money from fossil fuel interests and roll back environmental policy.

So the question posed by the Incentive, Prize and Loyalty Community to their Practitioners this month around whether ‘purpose’ is more prevalent in their campaigns as a result of the pandemic, in our minds, has two connotations.

Firstly, are more brands embracing the power of purposeful campaigns in the light of COVID?

And secondly, perhaps more poignantly, is it now expected of brands to deliver a purpose with their promotions, and for it to be hewn into the very essence of the campaign, and not bolted on afterwards?

Has COVID helped shape the promotional landscape into one that is built on purpose?

There is no reason to doubt it, and after all, this is the season to be hopeful…