CAPE TOWN: Marketing campaigns that benefit the wider community as well as the brand are gaining traction in Africa, with this category the fastest-growing at the recent Loeries communications awards.

The Ubuntu Award for Sustainable Marketing attracted an 80% increase in entries, while two of the four Grand Prix awarded were also for campaigns promoting social issues.

Loeries CEO Andrew Human told the Financial Mail that the Ubuntu Award was ahead of its time when first launched but he now expected the idea to spread into the marketing world generally.

He also expressed the hope it would spread geographically and that future entries would come from beyond South Africa – the Loeries covers the whole continent as well as the Middle East.

"We should strive for a time when no brand can operate with impunity while not making a positive contribution to our society," he declared.

This time is not imminent, however, as BBDO SA chief creative officer Mike Schalit, who also created a nonprofit agency to persuade companies to undertake marketing projects to benefit the community at large, said this thinking was still far from the norm.

He argued that chief executives needed to become involved in such campaigns as they had a wider perspective than corporate social investment managers.

The public's greater access to information is also playing a role, according to Mike Barnwell, Draftfcb Cape Town executive creative director. "[Brands] are being defined by what they do as much as, if not more than, by what they say," he said.

"Transparency and connectivity have incited a need for conscious communication and brands that are not seen to be actually living out their values are in for a hard time," he added.

The idea that brands could maximise profits and still be a force for social good was the subject of the 2013 Admap Prize, which was won by an essay arguing that marrying multiple objectives together three-dimensionally is the route to business success rather than the single goal of profit.

Warc also recently launched the Warc Prize for Social Strategy, a global competition with a $10,000 prize fund, to find the best examples of social ideas that drive business results.

Data sourced from Financial Mail, Loeries; additional content by Warc staff