My new column is live in The Drum:

The brand purpose hypocrisy at Cannes Lions

Some things you can see from only 1,700 miles away – like how the ad executives gathered at Cannes Lions last week talked a lot about brand purpose but completely ignored an actual opportunity to help the world.

I was unable to attend the festival, but I followed the proceedings from Tel Aviv by reading The Drum’s full coverage and obtaining in advance the prepared speeches and presentation decks of sessions that had piqued my curiosity.

‘Brand purpose’ was a popular topic. Maithreyi Jagannathan, P&G’s associate marketing director for healthcare, and Ajay Vikram, the chief creative officer of Publicis Singapore, discussed an ad campaign featuring a transgender Indian mother and a girl with a rare skin condition.

Jimmie Stone, Edelman’s chief creative officer for New York and Latin America, unveiled a five-step guide to building a brand with purpose. The Body Shop’s global head of activism, Jessie Macneil-Brown, joined a Unilever global sustainability lead, Dorothy Shaver, and Tony’s Chocolonely’s head of marketing, Pascal Van Ham, to talk about the future of brand activism.

Netflix writer and producer Kenya Barris, Wieden+Kennedy chief creative officer Colleen DeCourcy and TBWA chief executive officer Troy Ruhanen touched on brand activism in a hyper-charged society.

At AdConnect’s beach, the ACT Responsible association (Advertising Community Together) presented ‘tributes’ to the best in advertising around themes such as the environment.

But see what happened when someone actually wanted to do something real about the environment. An activist group named Extinction Rebellion exposed the feel-good sentiments as utterly hypocritical.

Read the rest here.

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