Our resident brand and marketing expert, Nqobile Simelane, breaks down the power of purpose-driven marketing in today’s market, citing the Illa Penboy brand as a shining example of this practice in addition to being a brand that even larger organizations can learn from.

By Nqobile Simelane- Guest Writer

The goal of purpose-driven marketing is for a brand to develop a deeper rapport with its consumer base by creating authentic connections based on shared values.

Locally, from a personal brand perspective, I have to absolutely applaud the Illa Penboy brand which began as a hip hop artist focusing solely on producing music and creating events. From there it grew to a socially responsible brand through the “Donate Bread” campaign which initially focused on providing a loaf of bread for less fortunate families at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It then evolved to providing balanced, cooked meals and became a disruptive brand through its brand proposition, “No Child Should Ever Go to Bed Hungry” which has been sponsored by brands such as Build It, KFC, GALP, Instacash, Premier Bakery, MTN and many more.

Through its purpose-led activities drive, the brand has caught the attention of South African personalities in the entertainment sector who have reached out to the Founder, Sifiso Ndlangamandla, and offered their assistance through monetary contributions and creating further awareness amongst their networks.

The brand continues to excel in its growth phase through the establishment of an Illa Penboy Foundation, which will result in more impact and more purpose. It recently concluded a partnership with established South African sneaker brand, Bathu Shoes, which has committed to raising 10 000 school shoes for less fortunate children in the country.

This is a clear display of what passion-fueled and purposeful strategies can achieve, even on an initial shoe-string budget. In addition to his exemplary leadership in the social responsibility space, Illa Penboy has managed to acquire a partnership with Mpesu Gin, a South African-based spirit beverage, which has enabled him to further grow his brand in territories that he would not otherwise have access to.

Using his initial power from being a hip hop artist and MTN SWAMA Award winner, Illa Penboy used all the resources at his disposal to scale his brand and impact in ways that no one could have ever imagined, through a simple awareness strategy comprised of social media, press insertions from media coverage of his activities, as well as occasional interviews on the local radio and television stations. He also relied on word-of-mouth through his growing network and tapped into the relationships he had nurtured and harnessed over the years.

He never deviated from his vision, mission, and values, and this should be huge learning even for the larger corporate brands who frequently adopt leaner strategies, citing budget as being the reason for their absence in the minds of their audiences. Illa Penboy has recently been quoted as playfully, and profoundly stating that “My overnight success has taken me 10 years”. Time and nurturing are yet another important lesson in the journey of brand building that Illa Penboy has shown us through his commitment, dedication, and resilience.

Internationally, one brand that has got it absolutely right in driving purpose in its activities is Dole Sunshine Company, a food, and beverage company that is one of the largest producers of pineapples in the world. The company has collaborated with a company called Ananas Anam to produce Piñatex, a vegan, sustainable leather made from the fiber of pineapple leaves that would otherwise go to agricultural waste. From an environmental perspective, the process of producing this vegan leather saves 264 tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the air from the burning of 825 tons of leaves typically wasted in the pineapple industry.

It’s scary to note that the leather production industry is a close second to the oil industry in terms of being the most polluting production sector in the world so this collaboration and development is a significant revolution in the Environmental, Societal and Governance (ESG) marketing space and contributing to Dole’s efforts to achieve zero waste by 2025. Socially and economically, it provides additional income for subsistence farmers in the Philippines by providing them more space to occupy in the value chain.

Since the formation of this partnership in 2016, more than 1000 lifestyle brands in over 80 countries are now using Piñatex for their shoe collections including, Hugo Boss; H&M; chain hotel Hilton Hotels, and most recently Nike, who gave its iconic Air Force 1 shoe style a vegan leather makeover with the help of Piñatex. The new pineapple leather-based range is part of Nike’s Happy Pineapple collection which also includes reimaged versions of the Air Max 90, Air Max 95, and Air Zoom Type.

From an extended marketing perspective, this is an exceptional strategy that fully maximizes the 7 Ps of the marketing mix to work together to succinctly achieve the objectives of Dole’s marketing strategy and successfully display the power of collaboration, the importance of ESG rating as well as the development of sustainable plans.

The Dove brand also achieved great success and impact through the Toxic Influence campaign which used trusted influencers of teens, and their moms, to convey the dangers of the toxic influence that social media has on the images of young ladies, encouraging them to engage in diabolically unhealthy eating and cosmetic habits in order to redesign their images into what is deemed to be a perfect size, look and overall appearance.

Using Deep Fake, a synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness, Dove created a series of videos using a number of mothers, having captured their voices, facial expressions, tones, and demeanor.

The mothers appeared to be giving advice on how to alter one’s appearance through disturbing tactics like leveling one’s teeth with a nail file to achieve a perfectly symmetrical smile, abstaining from food for 5 days to achieve a wafer-like figure, encouraging the use of Botox fillers for teenagers, and promoting minimal clothing to be worn in order to grow social media attention and followership.

This campaign succeeded in conveying to young girls that the communication they see on social media is not necessarily trustworthy just by virtue of being posted by well-known faces with a substantial following and community. It also succeeded in raising awareness of the dangers of social media influence on the mothers and enhanced their consciousness of the amount of time and access that should be granted to children who are still in their care.

Both the Dole and Dove campaigns were recognized for their impactful campaigns through being awarded the coveted Cannes Lions awards at the recent Cannes Film Festival in France.

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