‘Enlightened self-interest’ becomes an important business & branding strategy

‘Enlightened self-interest’ becomes an important business & branding strategy

Chris Clarke, Chief Creative Officer of DigitasLBi, talks about the notion of “enlightened self-interest” and how it is central to ‘who we are’. He explains that the only really good way of getting an [advertising or marketing] message across effectively, is by doing good and as such, corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives have come to the forefront of branding. For example, Unilever’s share prices have increased by almost five times since the start of their initiatives in 2010. Not only have their profits increased, but it has also made the company much more conscious of the impact of its business on society as a large.

Critical thinking is the key to creativity in the digital era.
Speaking at the IAB Digital Summit, Clarke discusses the absolute importance of critical thinking as the key to creativity. He maintains that this is because it is impossible to strive to be better, or make something better, if you cannot find fault in what was previously there. It is this constant drive for ‘better’ that enables a brand to find a higher purpose. This said, as people “…we are strangely uncritical of technology and largely unaware of the darker implications of technology disruption.” He continues that, due to technology, large organisations like Kodak- are being taken over by newer companies which give a once-off payment to the founders. This doesn’t make any money and is having a negative effect on the median income of developed countries. His other comment on Tech is that Brands are now no longer able to communicate as effectively through traditional channels because of the proliferation of media through different channels. He believes this means that, in order for organisations to get their brands known, there needs to be a value exchange. One of the best ways to do that is to be helpful. A brand needs to find what society needs and then find an overlap between this and what their brand values are. If this overlap is successful, a brand’s message will be spread and their values will be spoken about.

Why is OMO bribing kids to do maths? …
The OMO brand made a commitment to improve mathematics statistics in South Africa. The OMO program was designed to “bribe” children into doing maths by making it fun and giving them incentive to work towards bettering their maths skills. While this may seem to have little to do with the product, it matters a lot to Unilever because companies in developing countries are being “hollowed out” due to large numbers of people who are unable to control computers – due to their inabilities in maths and coding. While this strategy may be a ‘long game’, “…it can be looked at as the custodian of a brand’s future consumers,” says Clarke. Ultimately, it becomes a “smart way of looking at the society in which you operate and finding a brand purpose in that”.


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