Brands may benefit from understanding the difference between having a clear “perspective” versus focusing on a given purpose in their marketing.

Neal Arthur, managing director of Wieden+Kennedy/New York, discussed this topic at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2019 Masters of Marketing Conference.

In a marketing age when seemingly every brand seeks to connect with a specific larger cause, he suggested, it is important to distinguish between “brand purpose” and the idea of “perspective”.

“‘Purpose’ makes me a little uncomfortable at times; whenever a purpose is forced, it can feel dangerous,” Arthur said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Wieden+Kennedy’s creative excellence rests on seven points of agency culture.)

“But every brand,” he continued, “can have a perspective – and that allows it to talk about things that are going on in the real world.”

Case in point: “It’s Not Fitness, It’s Life”, a brand positioning from Equinox – a notion that has enabled the fitness chain to run compelling ads, such as one showing a mother breastfeeding two children at once, paired with copy that reads “Commit to Something”.

Said Arthur, “Equinox is a client that loves to create that sort of provocation. That voice allows them to talk about things like breastfeeding.”

He added, “When you ask a brand these larger questions about, ‘What do you stand for? What are you mad at? What do you believe in?’ you get to a bigger place.

“You’re not talking about facts. You’re talking about feelings. And that’s massively important, because that’s ultimately where connections happen.”

Wieden+Kennedy’s work with sports brand Nike is another example. “It was never about the amount of air in the sneaker and a max pocket,” said Arthur. “We always have tried to stand for something that was bigger than the product itself.”

The brand’s affiliation with Colin Kaepernick – the gridiron star who has failed to find a team for three years, an outcome commonly linked to his protest related to the national anthem – fits into this notion perfectly, he asserted.

“That was the most consistent thing that Nike could have done. Nike has always stood for the perspective of the athlete and we’re always going to stand by this guy,” said Arthur.

Sourced from WARC