TOMS Shoes: five basic best practices for purpose-driven marketing

Geoffrey Precourt

When a powerful global house of brands like Unilever issues a mandate to turn all of its products over to purpose-driven marketing – with a goal, by 2020, "to help one billion people take action to improve their health and wellbeing" – it sends a keen signal that consumers are interested in more than whether a soap cleans your hands.

"Sustainability needs to be embedded at the heart of strategy," Keith Weed, Unilever's chief marketing and communication officer, has written. "To succeed here, we need new business models. Sustainability needs to be integral to your strategy, not an add-on."

It's a point of emphasis confirmed both by Unilever's marketplace success and by a recent EffectiveBrands/Association of National Advertisers (ANA) study. But a more practical piece of proof has been at work in the digital marketing ecosystem for nearly a decade.