A new post-purpose reality is here! New #LeadershipStrategy interview in Forbes: I sat down with David Hessekiel from Cause Marketing Forum / Engage for Good while in #NewYork and discussed my book #TheHeroTrapand some of the latest research, we’ve done with GfK. It’s time to redefine leadership; People aren’t buying your purpose or values (Everybody claim to have them), or your actions (few brands take actions bold enough to matter), but instead they’re buying; Who you can help them become? #leadership #brands #purpose#postpurpose
David Hessekiel: Describe the personal and professional journey that led you to the helm of The Goodvertising Agency and the work you do advising brands on embracing purpose.
Thomas Kolster: Let me be honest, at the age of 30 I was running a run-of-the-mill advertising agency out of Copenhagen, Denmark, when I had my first light bulb moment.
In Denmark in 2009, we were hosting the UN Climate Change Summit, and all the big shots were there: Barack Obama, Tony Blair, Angela Merkel etc. Obviously, I had high expectations to our elected government leaders to step up and act on the climate emergency. Nothing happened. I asked myself what can I do as a marketeer? What if brands stepped up to the challenge? That sparked me to write my first book, “Goodvertising.” I dedicated the agency to work for and rally for brands to embrace purpose and more sustainable practices: The Goodvertising Agency.
A decade later, I had my second light bulb moment. The market had dramatically changed from the days of early purpose adopters such as Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s and Chipotle. Suddenly every brand pretended to be Mother Teresa and Gandhi shouting its world-bettering message from every roof top. Who to trust? And maybe more importantly, with all these so-called purposeful brands, who have genuinely helped you live a better life? I wrote a second book, “The Hero Trap”, taking a hatchet to my earlier beliefs and portraying what I call a post-purpose market.
People aren’t buying your purpose or values (Everybody claim to have them), or your actions (few brands take actions bold enough to matter), but instead they’re buying; Who you can help them become? For me, that’s real authentic leadership. When you as a brand help people live greener or healthier, they can feel the difference, it’s not yet another cheap corporate statement. If you pretend to be a hero and shout: We are oh so diverse, someone will eventually call you out. Whereas if you as a brand enable people to confront their biases, it’s hard for them to criticize you if they don’t succeed. They have a responsibility as well. It’s simple, avoid the hero trap.