SXSW 2021: PURPOSE & SOCIAL JUSTICE
by Lisa Fritts
SXSW 2021 delivered a very clear call to action for brands around purpose and taking a stand on human injustices. As health and wellbeing marketers, we need to listen and not just stand by, not just sell products – but truly make the world better. How?
Two of the panels I attended spoke to how important it is for brands and organizations to clearly define a purpose. Holly Thaggard of Supergoop! has been on a mission to get SPF into everyone’s daily skincare routine and to make it a seasonless category. Something as simple as calling her morning team meetings “Rise and Shine and SPF” serves as a reminder to this mission. Both she and Wade Allen of Brinker International (who was in a different panel discussion) amplified how having a clearly defined mission makes it easier to innovate and make business decisions. As Mr. Allen stated: “Many companies have a clear purpose. When you do, you’ll know what to innovate around, not just innovating for the sake of innovating.” Call to action for brand marketers: Define how you make the world better in one, concise sentence, and stick to it in all of your decisions and actions.
80% of consumers believe that brands need to solve society’s problems.1 And 71% believe that companies, now more than ever, need to address social justice issues.2 Sabrina Butler-Smith shared her story about being wrongly convicted, sentenced to death row, and then exonerated. And in response, Sir Richard Branson compelled business leaders to care about the death penalty: “We’re human beings. All successful businesses make people’s lives better…and their leaders need to be a force for goodness in society…this must include speaking out about issues that are unacceptable.” In another panel, Trans activist Alok Vaid-Menon spoke to the state of emergency in Trans legislation and the need to act: “This is also your fight to create a world where people matter more than your bodies. We need to be respected for our souls, not our bodies.” Call to action for brand marketers: You have platforms to do more for the world, and can no longer be afraid of causes that speak out against human injustices. To quote Sir Richard Branson: “Screw it. Just do it. Justice, empathy, forgiveness, and racial equality are things we cannot be silent on. We must never ever be bystanders in the face of injustice.”