By Braden Hoeppner
It’s no secret that there are incredible dollars available in the marketing industry. Digital marketing spend worldwide reached USD $209 billion last year while TV advertising reached USD $178 billion1.
Celebrity sponsorships can be astronomical: exceeding tens of millions of dollars. It is staggering to see investments made to convince people to buy our products.
But what impact could we have if we used a fragment of these dollars towards causes that positively impact the greater good? What if brands had a responsibility to use our cultural influence to drive and inspire positive action?
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is often a business model strategy, where there is an exchange of product one-for-one based on a certain cause. Or a percentage of sales is donated back to it. But even if your company isn’t structured that way, the ability to impact a meaningful cause beyond a traditional CSR campaign is possible.
Positive impact can still be achieved thanks to the idea (and power) of purpose-driven marketing. Purpose-driven marketing enables consumers to use their purchasing power to drive social and environmental change. It is changing the way companies approach influencer campaigns, CSR and marketing in general and for good reason.
Brands could make a huge difference. We could create an impact that helps foster community, expands our consumer base and gives our consumers something to be passionate about alongside our products.
And the good news is that more consumers are looking for that kind of influence from businesses.
According to a 2017 study by Cone2 consumers factor companies’ core beliefs into their shopping decisions. 87% of those surveyed said they’d purchase a product because that company advocated for an issue they cared about. Eight-in-10 (79%) expect businesses to continue improving their CSR efforts and nearly two-thirds (63%) believe businesses will take the lead to propel social and environmental change moving forward.
Brands’ social influence
Brands large and small have a truly unique opportunity to build and foster a community that is far beyond just a product transaction. The brands we choose to buy and use often reveals our own values.
The reach and influence of a brand can even be compared to that of celebrities. Brands exist because of a passion, a drive to create something that impacts the lives of our fellow humans through a product or a service. That same passion is often propelled by those who become advocates of our brands. People who become part of our community and who interact with us on a regular basis through many transactions, purchases, social media, blogs or in-store experiences. Your most passionate fans can be more powerful than any marketing campaign as they share the story of your brand through their circles of influence. But are you feeding their passion and engaging with them?
Launching a purpose-driven campaign
Making a shift to purpose-driven marketing doesn’t have to be difficult. For example, it could be as small as altering your influencer marketing program by choosing influencers who share your values and support causes that resonate with your consumers.
At SAXX Underwear, we recently launched our “No Status Quo” campaign, which was built with the goal of supporting positive change through partnerships that promote innovation and meaningful impact.
We define “No Status Quo” as the refusal to accept the existing state of affairs or live in tolerable mediocrity. That’s what we’re doing with this purpose-driven shift in our marketing strategy by connecting the innovation in our products with change-makers around the world who are creating solutions to very big challenges.
SAXX exists to support guys (literally through the product and also through our content marketing) in order to empower their relentless ingenuity in creating positive change in the world. To make a better world: one that is more human, connected and resilient.
SAXX’s founder challenged the status quo ten years ago by asking the question: why can’t men’s underwear be better? He then reinvented underwear by creating the patented BallPark Pouch. SAXX now provides men with the world’s most comfortable underwear.
But we wanted to do more than that. Our goal is to be a collective for men driving positive impact in the world. Our planet and society face many challenges today, and we feel it’s up to each of us to step up and create solutions for a better world. We’re inspired by the community of guys who wear SAXX, and who are pushing the world forward. We want to bring their stories to a wider audience.
Our purpose-driven campaign shifts our marketing dollars and resources to invest in and empower the guys who are making an impact. These initiatives can be as global as the men we selected, but also on a micro scale as well. The dads that are stepping up to improve their children’s worlds, the men helping out at the local shelter and the guy creating social change in his neighborhood, all of whom are trying every day to make a positive impact. Those are the inspirational men that we want to help promote in order to inspire others to get started on creating the change in the world they want to see.
Here are the first three change-makers we are supporting:
- Topher White, Rainforest Connection
Topher’s mission is to stop illegal deforestation, which is the number one contributor to climate change. He has developed a way of turning old cell phones into listening devices, and is combining that with artificial intelligence and machines to detect sounds of loggers, poachers and animals. Using this bio-acoustic monitoring, his team is able to alert the authorities of illegal logging, and will be able to contribute statistics to the scientific community about animal populations;
- Cesar Jung-Harada, Protei & Maker Bay
Coral reefs are dying before our eyes, and the systems we use to understand them need an update. Cesar’s latest open-sourced innovation is ScoutBot: an ocean-mapping robot — made from inexpensive recycled products, like plastic bottles – that is paired with drone propellers, laser projectors and a GoPro to measure the ocean floor far better than a human ever could; and
- Dylan Jones, Coast Protein
The supply-chain of protein is ridden with pollution. Using crickets to source protein takes 13-times less land, 2,000-times less water and produces 100-times less emissions than the same amount of protein from cows. Dylan is developing protein powders, bars and chocolates to help promote a cleaner form of protein in the world.
With this new initiative, we hope to inspire men to actively create positive change in the world and to not only support men with comfortable underwear, but also to encourage them in their daily lives. Though this purpose-driven model just launched for us in late April 2018 feedback on our efforts has already been incredibly well received. But no matter the short-term results, we are committed to this platform as a long-term strategy for the life of the brand.
With companies spending an average of 11% of their total company revenue on marketing3, it’s easy to get consumed in the shiny stuff: the ads, the influencers, events, digital and social media. There is so much we can be doing in the marketing toolbox to achieve our goals, that we often lose sight of the impact a brand can truly make when we build human connections.
I challenge you to think about your strategy, and how it can be used even in the smallest way to drive positive impact for our world.
Braden Hoeppner is the chief marketing officer at SAXX, one of the fastest growing men’s underwear companies in North America. His passion in marketing is at the fusion of human psychology, data, communications and creative. He was formerly head of brand and online at Kit & Ace, and CMO of Coastal Contacts. In his spare time, Hoeppner enjoys adding to his PEZ dispenser collection.
1 Kafka, Peter and Molla, Rani. “2017 was the year digital ad spending finally beat TV”, Recode December 4, 2017.
2 Cone Communications. “2017 Cone Communications CSR Study”, study, May 17, 2017.
3 Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Deloitte LLP and the American Marketing Association. “The CMO Survey, Highlights and Insights Report”, February, 2018.