Marketing Like We Give A Damn

Jennie Gilbert, Marketing and New Business Assistant from OMD Sydney, supports the National Marketing Team in maintaining a strong brand presence in-market and driving new business.

‘Think transformational, not transactional.’

A few weeks ago, about 100 media professionals met at the stunning Twitter HQ in Sydney for UnLtd‘s first Positive Change breakfast series, presented in conjunction with IAB Australia and the Marketing Academy. The energy in the room was buzzing with everyone itching to hear from the co-author of ‘Good Is The New Cool’ himself, Afdhel Aziz.

For those unfamiliar with Afdhel and his co-author Bobby Jones’ work, let me break it down for you.

Afdhel was a top of his game marketer, working with clients such as Absolut, Nokia, Procter & Gamble and Heineken. Similarly, Bobby Jones has also left his mark on the industry and after being recognised for his work on Ford, Moet, Adidas and Hennessey, he reached the position of VP at Octagon, North America. Both individuals had reached incredible professional heights, until one day Afdhel was met with a horrific situation he could not have predicted. In 2004, whilst travelling overseas for his brother’s wedding alongside his family, the Indian Ocean Tsunami flooded the coast of Sri Lanka and surrounding areas. Afdhel and his family were lucky to survive, however this brush with death gave Afdhel a completely new perspective on what was important in life.

As marketers and advertisers, it is highly common for us to ask ‘Is what I’m doing enough?’ Does this career fit into how I want to contribute to the world? Will the path I’ve chosen allow me to lead a fulfilling life?’

Together, Afdhel and Bobby sought the answers to these questions and after much discussion and soul searching, they concluded that currently, no, we aren’t doing all we can… but we could be.

In creative and engaging style, the authors question “If the system is broken, how can we fix it? Rather than sinking money into advertising, why not create a new model, in which marketing optimizes life?”. In their book ‘Good Is The New Cool’, Afdhel and Bobby turn the traditional marketing practice on its head and show how it is in fact possible for businesses to make money and do good at the same time, by harnessing the power of cool.

As we have seen over the past few years, the term ‘social responsibility’ is evolving and we are now seeing a lot of businesses working in a space of ‘social opportunity’. We know now that consumers want to link themselves to businesses that mean something to them, to businesses that support causes that they also care about. Millennials/Gen Z expect social returns from companies and they expect you to be authentic whilst doing it. Too many times do we see companies brand washing themselves with causes that are blatantly disingenuous (enter Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad).On the other hand, brands that have used their power and influence to push social change have not only strengthened their existing consumers but have created a whole new audience. Afdhel points to brands like Adidas who recently recycled 70million plastic shopping bags and bottles to make their new eco friendly Adidas x Parley shoes. The company sold 1 million pairs at $220 per pair and are now extending their range to swimwear (you do the math on how that profit is looking..). He also discussed the new Airbnb Open Homes initiative where users open their homes free of charge to people who have found themselves in extreme circumstances such as natural disasters which has helped millions of people all over the globe.Within Afdhel and Jones’ book, the pair walk readers through their newly proposed manifesto on how companies can tackle their environmental, humanitarian and economical responsibilities while still growing their business. The new model features seven revolutionary principles starting from “Treat People as Citizens, Not Consumers” to “Lead with the Cool”. But where do we start? Afdhel believes step one can be found at our own offices, with the people and resources surrounding us. Go back to the drawing board, redefine your company (or personal) purpose and figure out what that special something is that you can offer the world. Start to have these conversations with your friends, your boss, your colleagues, people you see at lunch and find your allies! From here you can start working towards linking your business culture to its commerce, thus conscience.  But I’m not here to reveal all this books secrets, so, if you’re wanting to learn more about how we can become more mindful marketers, use our creative strengths to build a more meaningful legacy and ultimately contribute more positively to the world, the book is now available on Amazon here. Afdhel’s speech was as inspiring as it was insightful, and he had everyone on the edge of their seat in utter silence and attentiveness from the onset and throughout.

The morning wrapped up with UnLtd’s CEO, Chris Freel, discussing how we can all be more involved in our local scene before diving into a thought-provoking Q&A session with Afdhel himself. Afdhel was an incredibly captivating speaker and we can’t wait to watch him spread this message all over the globe. Thank you to Afdhel, Twitter, UnLtd, AIB and the Marketing Academy for an incredibly stimulating morning.

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