Cannes Communiqué: Humankind Brands

This week, a Ketchum contingent is in attendance at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in southern France, where the global marketing industry has gathered to celebrate what’s working, what’s coming and what’s hot in marketing communications. Here are some on-the-scene reports.

Quite a number of recent major marketing and advertising conferences have focused on the latest evolution of CSR and cause marketing — purpose-driven marketing. Leo Burnett pushed that envelope even further with the concept of humankind brands.

Humankind brands differ from cause and CSR in two ways. First, the concept is a foundational part of the marketing strategy and all marketing disciplines contribute to it, as opposed to a simple charity tie-in — think Coke’s Happiness Project. The second difference is simply better packaging of the concept by ad agencies versus what other communicators have done in the past.

“Living Your Purpose,” as Burnett called it, has tangible benefits to any company: 52% higher productivity and 13% better staff retention. Those benefits can be translated to brands by evolving them into humankind brands.

Compelling data and even better packaging and storytelling are pushing what was known for years as cause marketing to new heights. Ad agencies are telling the story in more compelling ways than PR firms have done with cause marketing or CSR. The themes are catchy and the visuals engaging. Plus, many ad agencies have the ear of the CMO, influencing buy-in at higher levels.

Interesting to see how ad agencies are staking their claim, quite compellingly, in this “new” space.

Kelley is a Partner and Director of Ketchum’s Global Brand Marketing Practice. She is the author of of the business book, Too Busy to Shop: Marketing to Multi-Minding Women (Praeger/Mar 2009) and the architect of the widely-publicized Women 25to54 offering.