The Ultimate ‘Purpose Marketing’ Playbook: Turn Your Brand Into a Change Advocate

Ally Krysiak and Lynne Clement

Wednesday Aug 5th, 2020

momofmamony purpose

Marketing hacks for a more profitable and sustainable future

Every time society elevates an important cause, brands find themselves in a dilemma:  To take a stand or not to take a stand?  

The concern is real. 

Even well-intentioned cause-marketing campaigns can backfire if not well-executed.  Remember the public outrage sparked by Pepsi’s TV ad featuring Kendall Jenner? Pepsi was criticized for trying to be ‘woke’ without understanding the sensitivities behind the BLM issue.

This may explain why many brands avoid speaking out about hot-button issues.

But ignoring these controversial topics is not an option anymore. Consumers expect brands to stand up for causes. According to an Edelman study, consumers trust companies more than their own government to bring about social change.

Edelman Study

Good intentions aside, movement marketing benefits companies’ bottom-lines. A study by Unilever shows more than 33% of consumers prefer to buy ‘purpose-driven’ brands.

Luckily, it’s not too late for your brand to rally behind a worthy cause. With the right intentions and strategy, you can make a difference AND win the loyalty of your target audience!


Abby & Finn Eco-Friendly

1. Be human and ethical

Think of change advocacy as a way for your brand to stand for more than profits and be a catalyst for social good.

But it’s not enough that you and your team are passionate about a cause. The brand’s efforts need to be genuine.

In 2018, Lacoste tried -- and failed -- in its attempt to stand up for the wildlife cause. For a limited time, they sold polo shirts featuring endangered species, instead of their trademark crocodile logo. But, while supporting the need to save animals, it soon became known that Lacoste was selling goods made from deer and cow leather.  This made it seem like their wildlife support was for commercial gain. 

In this Information Age, where business practices are transparent, that sort of double standard won’t cut it.

Once you commit to a cause, it needs to be part of your long-term business strategy -- even if it means reduced profits or change in stakeholder relations.  This will ensure you come across as a brand that genuinely cares. 

Peet Bros 100% palm oil free

Peet Bros. conveys true concern for sustainability by embedding this value deep into the organization.  Not only are its products 100% palm oil-free, but the company educates customers about the environmental impact of palm oil, and donates part of its sales to fight deforestation worldwide.  According to Allison Hunt, Peet Bros. Marketing Manager, “For us, sustainability isn't just a marketing message — it's a core value that informs everything from hiring practices and employee well-being, to ingredients, packaging, and compassionate customer service.” 

2. Keep it authentic 

When taking a stand,  brands need to form a strong connection with “belief-driven buyers” -- such as millennials and Gen Z.  These generations trust the opinions of their beloved digital influencers.

Dropps, an eco-friendly cleaning solutions company, has endeared itself to these younger generations through clean living advocacy.  Dropps partners with a micro influencer marketing agency to raise awareness about plastic pollution and eco-friendly ingredients and shipping practices.  To do this, Dropps seeded their product samples to mom and pet influencers to help spread the word of their eco-friendly practices.  The influencers promoted the benefits of a plastic-free lifestyle and ingredient-consciousness to the fans on their social media handles.  

Dropps Sustainability

Here are two ways by which Dropps checked the right boxes:

  • Kept the conversation unpaid: Dropps offered free product samples of its detergent to relevant influencers. By not paying influencers cash for the promotion, the brand was able to secure user-generated content (UGC) that is personal and sincere.
  • Picked a cause that is true to the brand’s ethos:   They partnered with a nonprofit ocean conservation organization called Oceana. This collaboration tied in with Dropps’ eco-friendly packaging and sustainability efforts to produce the most convincing and authentic cause marketing.

Arguably, this level of self-awareness and transparency helped propel Dropps rapid growth and recognition by Inc. 5000, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing companies. 

3. Be creative and consistent

Beyond taking a stand, brands need an innovative approach. Let’s look at two brands that got creative and succeeded.   

Ben & Jerry's ice cream is the gold standard of purpose-driven marketing brands. In 2015, it created a new ice cream flavor ‘Save Our Swirled’ to increase awareness about the UN climate talks in Paris. More recently, Ben & Jerry’s introduced its “Justice Remix’d” flavor to shine a light on racism in the US criminal legal system. In both cases, the company went all out to promote the cause including press releases and ice cream trucks that traveled the nation to spark conversations about the issues. 

Metro Trains Melbourne created Dumb Ways to Die, another clever campaign. With the goal to improve passenger safety, this movement started with the launch of a funny animated song. Once it became popular, they created mobile games around the theme and even encouraged users to create parodies of the song. Thanks to these efforts, 127 million people stated they would be safer around trains because of the campaign.

Dumb Ways To Die Campaign


With the rise of ‘conscious consumerism’, a purpose-driven model can help your brand shine in front of your target audience.  Remember customers are not just buying what you sell, but what you believe in.

Are you ready to join the movement?


About the Authors  

rsz ally1

Ally Krysiak is a Brand Success Manager at ApexDrop, with prior campaign development and ad and website design experience.  Ally currently manages campaigns for brands such as Derma E and Abby & Finn.  In her free time, Ally enjoys being a dog mom, spending time outdoors, going on road trips, hikes, and exploring. Questions about marketing?  Feel free to reach out to Ally at  

rsz 2lynne1

Lynne Clement is a Client Marketing Specialist at ApexDrop with deep consumer product marketing and B2B writing experience.  When she’s not connecting with amazing brand marketers, Lynne enjoys exchanging pranks with her husband, kids, and co-workers, and rooting for Penn State teams. Lynne welcomes connections on LinkedIn and questions at  

About ApexDrop 

ApexDrop is a digital marketing agency that helps brand marketers get thousands of product samples into the hands of trusted micro influencers for content creation, social sharing, and brand evangelizing.  We’re different in that we pay influencers with your product gifts only (not cash) making our campaigns more authentic, and also more affordable.  Learn more