How Advertising Is Making The World A Better Place

How Advertising Is Making The World A Better Place
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By Carlos Ricque, SVP, Creative at DigitasLBi

Carlos Ricque heads creative for DigitasLBi San Francisco and served on the 2016 Health and Wellness jury at the Cannes Lions Festival

Maybe I’m a sucker for good marketing, but I just saw some work that could help cure what’s ailing humanity. I served on the Health and Wellness jury of this year’s Cannes Health Lions, where over 2,000 entries were submitted from around the world. As the jury discussed, debated and dissected the work, we were looking for gems that would elevate the conversation about health and wellness. We weren’t disappointed.

We talked a lot about the “healthification” of marketing -- the notion that, in the words of a fellow juror, “health is the new green”. The cynical will see this as a marketing ploy and nothing more. And sometimes that’s true.

But there is a sweet spot. When the goals of the marketer overlap with the needs of the human being, great things can happen. The marketing component can be overt, or subtle. But as long as it’s transparent and handled honestly, these ideas have the power to do a lot of good.

This can be as simple as talking to your customers in a new way, as proven by the submission for French grocery chain Intermarché. They offer customers a “Sugar Detox” -- six-packs of reduced-sugar yogurts that step down the amount of sugar a little bit per serving. It’s widely acknowledged that sugar is, indeed, an addiction; it takes a while for taste buds to acclimate to lessening amounts. This step-down pack is designed to wean chocolate fans off their sweet tooth a little at a time. Surely Intermarché will sell more yogurt, but they’ll be helping curb sugar consumption, and educating consumers, in the process.

Sometimes starting with the noble goal can open you to new possibilities. Deutsche Telekom, one of Europe’s largest wireless providers, partnered with a research company to create a mobile video game expressly designed to gather data for Alzheimer’s research. Just two minutes of game play provides five hours’ worth of research into human cognition. DT obviously has an interest in people using more data. But if that data is consumed while playing an addicting game, and supports a noble and scientifically valid goal, that’s a win for everyone. Happy telco exec, happy gamer, happy scientists.

Samsung is comfortable in this space as well. A global brand that yearns to be viewed as a world-changing innovator, they’ve established multiple startup-type projects around the world to explore how technology can help solve health-related issues. Will the consumers’ takeaway be a better view of Samsung? Certainly they would hope so. But along the way, Samsung is using marketing resources that would have been used to sell….and instead spending that money to help.

The list goes on. There’s the paint company helping the colorblind see colors; the dairy company giving free calcium-rich milk to kids with broken bones; the pain reliever brand that created a VR app to show non-sufferers what a migraine really feels like.

Of course these efforts will lead to brand affinity and (hopefully) increased sales. That’s the point of marketing. But to do it while actually helping others…isn’t that the real definition of corporate responsibility?

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