“Being a force for good to grow”

“Perhaps the loudest alarm is that despite spending $600bn (£454bn) a year on marketing, our collective industries still aren’t growing enough, holding stubbornly on to low single digital market growth,” Marc Pritchard said. “You might say that never have so many done so much for so little.”

Marc Pritchard makes some very important points in this talk about transparency, brand’s voice and partnering with platforms (in effect marginalising agencies). He talks about brands being a ‘force for good’. And I am glad that someone as powerful as him is pushing for more advertising that is good. So many of us in advertising do sexist, classist advertising and then we feign ignorance about advertising’s social impact. So someone pushing for being more conscientious with brand messages is a fellow soldier I want to hi5 with.

But when he said about being a ‘force for good’, initially I didn’t take it as simply the brand stance being progressive. I had a more radical idea in my mind. The problem he talked about was of low growth and what is the most common-sensical thing to do for an FMCG player to grow? Sell to more people!
Who could these ‘more’ people be?
Millions of refugees are braving death and worse to reach safer shores. Surely, if they find safer havens and are given the opportunity, they will stand on their feet soon enough and very well could become loyal consumers of brands that helped them.

So here’s the radical idea in a nutshell –
Grow by Doing good – Helping refugees find save haven and become self-reliant economically.

Western markets are saturated, real growth is practically the sole preserve of  developing economies of Asia and Africa. Whatever growth you see in US/ UK is speculation based – lottery bets on who gets to dominate the world in the future by monopolizing some commons or the other – amazon, apple, FB, google.

Helping refugees seems like the obvious answer to brand’s growth woes. By helping people grow, brands would in effect create a new and growing base of customers.

It would be cheaper than global campaigns – $600 Bn is spent on marketing by brands, he said, for declining growth. “…You might say that never have so many done so much for so little.”
Imagine what could be achieved with even a fraction of those funds if employed in service of humanity.
Imagine being a refugee. Imagine a P&G volunteer helping you with supplies when you reach safer shores. Imagine being helped by brands to set up your home. Would you be more likely to buy P&G products or Unilever products, there after?
Brand contributing to the cause would not be simply creating customers, they would be building possibly lifelong loyal relationships.

So here’s a radical idea Mr. Pritchard, How about companies like P&G and Volkswagen and all the rest of them… how about doing a concerted effort, perhaps by setting up a shared fund among all the global conglomerates to help refugees.  A fund to help the refugees find a home and in turn, create a new middle class that could consume your wares? You have the power to do good and you have lead with example with the empowering messaging. Here’s a stronger way to grow and to lead.

After all, inequality is market growth’s nemesis. No matter how much efficiencies you increase and smarter algorithms you create, if more people get poorer they simply are not going to buy enough for you to sustain your growth.

Helping refugees is the only way to sustainably grow over the long term.

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