Cannes Lions: ‘Woke-washing’ is undermining credibility & trust of ad industry: Alan Jope

The CEO of Unilever said agencies with a track record of purpose-washing won’t work on the company’s brands

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jun 20, 2019 11:46 AM

‘Woke-washing’ is undermining the credibility and trust of the advertising industry, Unilever Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alan Jope said at the 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on Wednesday.

Brand campaigns promising to improve the world but failing to take real action further destroy trust in the industry, when it’s already in short supply, said Jope.

According to Jope, purpose is one of the most exciting opportunities that he has seen for the industry, and done properly & responsibly, it will help restore trust in the industry, unlock greater creativity, and grow the brands.

“However, purposeful marketing is at an important crossroads. Woke-washing is beginning to infect our industry. It’s polluting purpose. It’s putting in peril the very thing which offers us the opportunity to help tackle many of the world’s issues,” he said.

The CEO urged agencies to reject campaign briefs from brands that don’t “walk the talk” on purpose and promised that agencies with a track record of purpose-washing won’t work on Unilever brands.

“Unilever will not be part of false purpose and will not work with those who are,” he said.

Jope mentioned that 64% of global consumers say they choose brands because of their stand on social issues, 91% of millennials would switch brands for one which champions a cause and that brands recognised for their strong commitment to purpose have grown twice the rate of others over the last 12 years.

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