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The purpose paradox: Lessons from Cadbury’s success story

How purpose can fuel effective creativity and why leading with compassion is essential for purpose-driven campaigns.


The concept of “purpose” has sparked a spirited debate in the marketing world, leaving brands wondering whether having a purpose is essential for thriving in the fast-paced 21st century or if it has diverted the attention of marketers from their core business priorities. However, the success of Cadbury’s goal to spread more generosity in the world proves that purpose isn’t just for the sake of having one—it’s purpose that drives performance.

At the Cannes festival, Mondelez, Ogilvy, and VCCP took us behind the scenes of a campaign that not only attracted 40 million new customers but also added $1.4-billion in retail sales value to the business.

During the session, the speakers explored how purpose can fuel effective creativity and discussed the strategic considerations of when and when not to use purpose in marketing initiatives.

One big takeaway was the importance of putting the customer at the centre. Instead of solely talking about themselves and their generosity, successful purpose-driven campaigns find ways to connect with customers on a deeper level. For example, Cadbury tapped into generous moments that resonated with their audience, embracing the universal desire for acts of kindness and compassion.

Another key insight was the need for differentiation. In a crowded marketplace, blending in with the competition is a grave mistake. Brands need to have the conviction to stand out. Cadbury’s campaign exemplified this principle by avoiding clichés and resisting the temptation to use excessive brand attribution. Purpose-driven marketing doesn’t always require grand gestures—it thrives on genuine connections with the audience.

The speakers also highlighted the potential for repurposing purpose platforms and positioning in different markets, while being mindful of cultural context. Cadbury’s success in India, where they tailored their purpose-driven messaging to the cricket premier league, showcased the power of adapting campaigns to resonate deeply within specific cultural contexts.

The session emphasized the importance of leading with compassion. Purpose-driven brands that genuinely tap into the human truth and show care for their customers forge profound connections that go beyond mere transactions. By infusing compassion into purpose-driven strategies, brands can create meaningful narratives that touch the hearts of their target audience.

Ultimately, the session underscored the crucial role of meticulous planning and understanding the human truth during the creative process. Taking the time to capture the essence of the human experience sets the stage for crafting compelling campaigns that leave a lasting impact.

Marcin Zerek

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