What comes first? The communications that tell consumers your organisation shares their values? Or the products that prove they do?

GOOD_Thinking_hero_620_Purpose We’ve all seen examples of orangutans being used to advertise coal-burning energy suppliers. Or, in November last year, Mattel presenting their Barbie doll as the inspiration for girls to follow their dreams of becoming CEOs, vets and scientists. As I argued at the time, that was a difficult claim to make when the doll itself (herself?) continued to present the same impossible body image and vacuous lifestyle. So it’s great to see that as of March 1st, Barbie is completely re-engineering its product line to create a range of dolls that look and dress like real women — or at least more so.

It’s a great reminder that social purpose is definitely no longer owned by the CSR department (if indeed your organisation still has one). It’s not owned by the communications department. It has to be owned by the organisation itself  — and run in a thread from the strategy and supply chain, through staff and culture, to communications and products.

That is, if it’s to be credible. And if it’s not credible? It’s just an orangutan gazing wistfully at a fairground, wondering what the hell it’s doing there.