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What does it mean to be a purpose-driven brand?

Purpose, Stakeholder Capitalism and COP 28

What does it mean to be a purpose-driven brand?

In partnership with Mubadala, our Abu Dhabi members came together to discuss what it means to be a purpose-driven brand, and how best to leverage sponsorships and partnerships based on purpose around ESG - especially in the lead-up to COP28.

Emma Cantwell, Director of Marketing and Communications at Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence attended the event and shared with us her key takeaways from our panel of expert speakers.

Eleanor O'Keeffe, Senior Director, Corporate Sustainability, EMEA, Edelman and former Head of Marcomms for COP26 spoke about her experiences leading the Marcoms at COP26: 

  • In the lead up to COP26, they needed to raise public awareness about COP and climate change but had very few resources to do so. A solution the team came up with was to leverage culture and partnerships with civil society
  • Partnerships with the likes of Global Citizen, New York Climate Week, celebrity ambassadors and platforms such as TED boosted awareness and engagement with more diverse audiences thereby fulfilling one of the strategic comms objectives of COP26 – signalling inclusion
  • At COPs, many brands found it hard to ‘get it 100% right’ but that even when things don’t play out as expected, you can find a way to make pivot and adjust – she used a case study of IKEA, whose sponsorship was decided late meaning visibility on site was low but they turned this around by donating all the furniture they provided as a sponsor to a local charity, resulting in huge coverage post COP.

Mohammed Ahmed Alsiddiq, Head of Integrated Marketing and Partnerships, Mubadala then spoke about how to leverage partnerships in a way that is true to the brand and:

  • Building a narrative thread early on – for Mubadala, the strategy and narrative for COP 28 started well before COP27 and is connected to the brand purpose of ‘unlocking value for a sustainable future
  • For COP27 Mubadala wanted a way to ‘show up credibly and authentically’ and created two major partnerships – one related to research around sustainable futures and ESG and another around mega-trends (which are used by the strategy team at the business)
  • Ensuring the right brand association and a solid partnership strategy (for them divided into business, community and global sport sponsorships)
  • Finally he spoke about offering a ‘safe space’ for his executives where they can voice their ideas and views on sustainability in a way that can lead to meaningful conversation and action.

Ultimately, the takeaways were:

  • We must start early and ensure there is a narrative before, but more importantly activity after that leads to action
  • However, in starting early, we must align saying and doing regarding sustainability and COP28
  • Marketing has the ability to influence its mass audiences with its understanding of behavioural science and access to C-suite decision-makers so we must seize the opportunity
  • We can all take small actions and this must start at home and in the workplace (mobilising our internal staff).


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