The race to be purposeful among corporate brands is intense, particularly for those embracing the societal agenda and trying to ‘help create a better world’. Whether they provide healthcare solutions, accounting services, defence technologies or washing powder, the list of companies trying to jump on that particular wagon grows by the month.

The organisations praised in RY’s annual Fit for Purpose index (the 2016 edition is published later this month) are those who are attempting to embed their purpose into not just their communications, but also their behaviour and their strategies. Companies that are, by and large, trying to ‘do it properly’. But for each of those trailblazers, how many others behind them have really thought their newfound stances through and are prepared to be held to account for them?

‘Stop Funding Hate’ is a new UK social media campaign that could be the start of a trend to make some think twice about paying lip service to the agenda.

Its pitch is simple. If your brand has a purpose or a value-set that talks about bettering society and promoting ‘respect’, ‘integrity’ or ‘inclusivity’, your media planning should take note.

It targets those brands that purport to be champions for better and yet advertise in channels that actively promote division in the UK, particularly with regards to the anti-immigration agenda. At the time of writing, Virgin Media and Specsavers are being pilloried by the campaign for advertising with the Sun and The Daily Express respectively, both of which are fuelling anger and zenophobia amongst their readers (Katie Hopkins in The Sun: ‘Rescue boats? I’d use gunships to stop migrants’).

How brands react to all this will be interesting and may well sort the wheat from the chaff. For instance, what happens in a post Brexit world, to a brand with a cosmopolitan and inclusive reputation that wants to engage with the insular and the Euro-bored? Will it lead or follow? What will come first, sales or values?

So please don’t be at cross-purposes. Be accountable. The one thing we could all do with more of in 2016 are organisations whose beliefs match their communications, their actions, and their choice of friends.

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