NEW YORK: Brands that truly embrace "altruism" stand to benefit from translating this theory into meaningful action, according to a leading executive from BBDO.

John Osborn, President/CEO of BBDO New York, discussed this subject at the Advertising Research Foundation's (ARF) 2016 Re!Think conference.

"Altruism is not popcorn and cotton candy: It is fundamentally intrinsic and integral to all of the work that we're doing for the majority of our clients," he said. (For more, including further tips for brands and agencies, read Warc's exclusive report: BBDO's altruism imperative.)

While many brands and agencies talk about "purpose", he continued, the rhetoric can outweigh attempts at following it through in practice.

"In my travels sometimes," Osborn stated, "I talk to people about their purpose-based missions or how they're making the world better in big and small ways. And I get a little bit of a subtle eye roll."

The rewards from successfully advancing such propositions in the marketplace, however, are tangible. "It's not an either/or proposition. It's an economic multiplier when done correctly," Osborn said.

"And that's a key point: how it's done. Over the last several years, our studies – and our experience – have shown that the majority of our client roster" has found added value from making brand "altruism" a reality.

Combining altruism with innovation can make an out-sized impact among consumers, as was demonstrated by the program developed for the American Red Cross in partnership with Bitly, the URL shortening service.

Looking more broadly, Osborn suggested that activations in this space will only deliver long-term value if the commitment is company-wide.

"Dipping your toe into it is not going to get it done. You're going to get called out. Everything is completely transparent in the world today and [the program] has to be really known – from within – and then told as a story to the rest of the world," he said.

"There has to be a foundation that exists in the hearts – not just the minds – of everybody who is a stakeholder in that enterprise, in that company. Increasingly, millennials are at the core of that."

Data sourced from Warc