Diageo’s global chief marketing officer Syl Saller has urged advertisers to embrace a greater sense of “purpose” in their marketing.
Speaking at today’s (26 January) LEAD 2017 conference in London, organised by the UK’s Advertising Association, Saller argued that the volatile politics over the past 12 months provides greater need than ever for brand purpose.
Saller admitted that the “widespread breakdown in trust in business” has created a challenging environment for international advertisers, but pointed to work by the likes of Mars and Unilever as an example of what is possible when purpose is made central to brand strategy.
In the case of Diageo’s own brands, she cited the £8m in incremental sales achieved by Guinness during the Rugby World Cup in 2015 following a campaign featuring Gareth Thomas, the first professional rugby player to publicly reveal he is gay.
“In this era of transparency, consumers know and care about what we and our brands do. Our brands can contribute more than their functional purposes to society [and help] people navigate a complex, unequal and perilous world,” she said.
“Corporations and brands don’t lead, people do,” added Saller. “We are living in turbulent times, with consumers who demand and reward authenticity […] We have the power to normalise disability, gender and race equality by what we show in our ads.”
Earlier today, Diageo revealed a stronger-than-expected 4.4% rise in sales in the six months to 31 December 2016, and a 28% year-on-year leap in operating profits, partly as a result of a weakening pound boosting sales in the US.