Sustainable development goals: the time is now for brands to make a real and lasting difference
For more information visit UN website here
Later this month, the UN will officially launch its new Sustainable Development Goals, setting the development agenda for the next decade and a half. At Flamingo, we believe their resonance will be felt far beyond the world of development. As we’ve expounded on this blog and beyond, as sustainability becomes ever more central to consumer culture and values, brands and corporates increasingly succeed by defining a purpose beyond profit.
There is mounting macro evidence that brands who do good also do well, and we are hearing increasingly more from the respondents we work with in our day to day research to validate this. Consumers trust that because brands are digging into their own pockets for social good, they will have more motivation to get it right and make a deep and lasting difference. In turn, the development world is increasingly cognizant of the benefits that can flow from less traditional partnerships with the private sector.
When it comes to the SDGs specifically, it is clear that, as a recent report by the think tank ODI highlighted, “revolutionary effort” will be needed to make them happen. The ambition of the goals is laudable but collective effort will be required if the world is to attain these targets. And this certainly means getting the private sector involved. On Friday, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Wu Hongbo, spelt this out: “In order to implement the sustainable development agenda, all available resources need to be mobilized in addition to the public financing,” he said. “I think we need policy guidance that will encourage the private sectors and the companies to come on board and support the implementation financially.”
We also see this via advocacy, where brands campaign about a particular issue, shifting public perceptions and potentially influencing cultural norms, policy or big business issues. Look at Dove’s campaign for real beauty, which has clear links to SDG 5 on female empowerment. As we’ve written elsewhere, these kinds of campaigns must be in synergy with a brand’s overall purpose if they are going to convince consumers and build equity. But the sheer scope of the SDGs presents so many opportunities to make a difference while building brands.
Beyond this use of comms, one of the most powerful opportunities for brands is via innovation, where a brand leverages its products to disrupt a negative process or by-product without having to change consumer behavior. In many ways this is the panacea – positive change that avoids the need to disrupt established consumer habits. And the potential impact of this approach is very exciting, particularly around the goals on sustainable production, climate change and sea life. Many corporates are already taking steps in this direction, reducing reliance on inputs like palm oil and unsustainably caught fish. And this kind of social mission can form the basis for incredibly compelling, and highly credible – based as it is on concrete actions the brand has taken – advertising, exemplified by Chipotle’s “beautiful, haunting” scarecrow ad.
So the possibilities for brands are extensive, and the implications for development very exciting. We think it’s the beginning of a new era of much more integrated contribution to social good from the private, public and third sectors.
Flamingo will be supporting the SDGs with blog posts and social media activity, bringing together our work with some of the worlds leading social purpose brands and businesses, and the new SDGs.
In addition to this, Flamingo London Director of Social Purpose Rosa Bransky will be speaking at the 2015 Social Good Summit in New York on Sunday 27th September.
The Social Good Summitis a two-day conference examining the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives around the world, held in New York on the 27-28th September’ (Mashable, 09/2015) – coinciding with UN Week.
This year’s theme, #2030NOW, asks the question, “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?”
Rosa will be exploring how research into marginalised digital spaces can help us transform the lives of some of the hardest to reach communities, her session is entitled, ‘Mapping the dark web’ (session 15).
More information about the Summit and Global Goals can be found on the United Nations website here.