Hypocrisy and Brand Purpose, update

Brand activism

Collecting stories for a future article about hypocrisy and brand purpose.

Cadbury and its generosity

  • Mission statement/brand purpose: Cadbury launched a new purpose-filled positioning in 2018, to “shine a light on the kindness and generosity that we see in society”; it re-launched its global brand positioning as a “family brand founded on generous principles”.
  • But… Cadbury manages to pay zero corporation tax, for the seventh consecutive year. The company, which is a subsidiary of US giant Mondelez International, recorded a 740% jump in profit for the year to 31 December 2017, with turnover rising to £1.66bn from £1.65bn. Yes, very generous principles behind Cadbury’s actions. In recent years, Cadbury’s corporate owners have consistently managed (legally) to avoid paying any corporate tax. Alex Cobham, who runs the Tax Justice Network, notes that Mondelēz regularly carries out “financial engineering that is very sad given Cadbury’s long history of working to generate value in the communities where they work”.
  • And… There is a single, brilliant way for Cadbury to deliver on brand purpose and align with the company’s true position: just pay the full 19% of corporate tax on your profits this year, Cadbury. Every penny. And celebrate where that money will go and what it says about you as a company and as human beings.
  • Also… Or, alternatively, reduce that tax to nothing once again and enjoy the extra money that this clever and incredibly legal tax minimisation bestows on you. But spare us the lectures on diversity, unity and society. Because we are better than you. We pay our taxes.

Google and accessible data

Starbucks, inspiring human spirit

Volkswagen, environmentally sound

  • Mission statement/brand purpose: the Group’s goal is to offer attractive, safe and environmentally sound vehicles which can compete in an increasingly tough market and set world standards in their respective class.
  • But… Volkswagen intentionally programmed turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel engines to activate their emissions controls only during laboratory emissions testing which caused the vehicles’ output to meet US standards during regulatory testing, but emit up to 40 times more poisonous toxins in real-world driving. The folks at Volkswagen deployed this programming software in about 11 million cars worldwide, including 500,000 in the United States, in model years 2009 through 2015. These toxins were partially responsible for the death or disability of hundreds of people. 
  • And also… Volkswagen itself continues to insist that although eight million cars sold in Europe were fitted with defeat devices, they were not required to pass EU emissions tests and therefore it has committed no crime in the EU.

Siemens, ethical and responsible

  • Mission statement/brand purpose: Being Responsible – Excellent – Innovative, with responsible meaning that the company is committed to ethical and responsible actions.
  • But… Siemens ended one of the biggest corporate corruption probes in history when it agreed in 2008 to pay about 1 billion euros in fines and penalties after investigations by U.S. and German authorities into bribes it paid to win contracts.

State Street and the diversity

Audi and the equal pay

  • Mission statement/brand purpose: Spent millions on a feminist Super Bowl spot in 2018, which proclaimed: “Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work.”. In the ad, a father watches his daughter in a downhill cart race and thinks about whether she is being judged based on her gender. At the core of the ad is whether she will be paid less than a man, despite her talents.
  • The reality: No women sit on Audi’s Management Board and its 14 person American executive team only has two women. In the press release for the Super Bowl ad, the car company said it was publicly committed to supporting women’s pay equality and pointed out that half of the candidates for its graduate internship program must be female. Rather than avoiding the conflict Audi has responded to negative comments generating even more criticisms.

Reference list

When did marketers become so ashamed of managing brands? https://www.marketingweek.com/2018/09/21/mark-ritson-marketers-ashamed-managing-brands/

Interbrand 2018 top brand list https://www.interbrand.com/best-brands/best-global-brands/2018/ranking/

Stop propping up brand purpose with contrived data and hypocrisy https://www.marketingweek.com/2018/07/25/mark-ritson-brand-purpose-contrived-data-hypocrisy/

I’ll have my lamb without the lecture on the side, thanks https://www.theage.com.au/opinion/ill-have-my-lamb-without-the-lecture-on-the-side-thanks-20170117-gtt0hl.html

Obsess over your brand conviction, not brand purposehttps://mumbrella.com.au/obsess-over-your-brand-conviction-not-brand-purpose-517471

How millennials’ taste for authenticity is disrupting powerful brands https://www.ft.com/content/09271178-6f29-11e8-92d3-6c13e5c92914

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.