Campaign details

Brand: Barclays
Advertiser: Barclays
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty


Brand purpose: panacea or placebo?

Few ideas in marketing today can divide a room as quickly as 'brand purpose'. The big names all come down on one side or the other. Keith Weed at Unilever and Dave Lewis at Tesco are advocates, Byron Sharp and Mark Ritson are not (Figure 1).

Figure 1

For many it's a powerful business tool. For others it's flawed, even an object of ridicule (Figure 2).

Figure 2

This case doesn't seek to turn doubters into evangelists. It won't ask people to believe purpose is the only way, simply that it's one way. We'll show evidence from Barclays refuting all of the key arguments against purpose, namely that:

  • it's only for youth brands and charities;
  • consumers don't care;
  • it's superficial and just about ads;
  • it leads to undifferentiated work;
  • it's a costly self-indulgence, not an efficient marketing tool;
  • it's for one-off creative spikes not long-term brand-building;
  • it's flawed as it prioritises societal over commercial impact.