Purpose-driven marketing – where brands champion specific values and causes rather than simply extolling their functional benefits – has become an integral component of the communications playbook.

But some industry-watchers have begun to ask whether this approach has now gone too far. As evidence, the critics have cited, fairly or otherwise, recent marketing efforts including:

  • PepsiCo's spot that shows model Kendall Jenner easing tensions at a street protest by handing a can of soda to a police officer;
  • a content play from McDonald's that begins with a boy learning about his deceased father, and culminates with the youngster eating his dad's favorite burger at the quick-service chain;
  • Heineken suggesting that individuals with divergent views might start overcoming their differences by sipping a beer.