I was struck by a recent editorial from Russell Parsons on “peak brand purpose”, which he linked to a crisis of confidence in marketing as a discipline.
“We reached peak brand purpose in 2019 with Gillette’s ‘The Best a Man Can Be’ and Cadbury’s ‘Unity Bar’…
“Marketers have sought to become part of the solution to the world’s ills, that it was no longer enough to have a product that performed or a service that satisfied — you had to be worthy…
“This has slipped into an underlying disquiet among many about what they do for a living. That, somehow, being a marketer is an unwholesome business.”
Somehow I originally missed the Cadbury “Unity Bar” campaign Russell referenced. In August, Cadbury tried to promote diversity (and mark India’s independence) by launching a single bar with 4 different kinds of chocolate: dark, blended, milk and white. It lead to widespread Kendall Jenner-level mocking that “Cadbury finally solved racism.”
It reminded me of this cartoon I drew in 2012 about marketers trying to climb the brand benefits ladder, from “salty & crunchy” to solving “world peace”.
Here are a few other related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: