Angie Moxham on Cannes, Purpose and BoJo

About 15 years ago, as founder and chief monkey of 3 Monkeys Communications, I talked about and pontificated on the fact that we were entering what I called, (and no doubt nicked the term, though I forget where from tbh), The Age of Authenticity.

Truth will out

Less than 10 years after its inception, the internet was clearly infiltrating everything; including spawning very influential and addictive social media channels. When there’s nowhere to hide, brands, businesses and individuals had to start to tell the “truth”. Consumers, activists, stakeholders, fans, guardians of society – all of us – could now only easily find out information about purpose, provenance and the track record of everything and everyone; to satisfy our curiosity, or to call them to task.

It was an obvious and a not-new point to make.

So, whilst in Cannes Lions last month, in between rose quaffage and networking, I read up on and reflected upon the campaigns being celebrated during that crazy, cornucopia-fuelled week of not-so-creative debauchery.

Authentic Cannes campaigns

Refreshingly in recent years – when able to rise above the incessant and embarrassing willy waving which our industry appears to excel at – I’ve noticed that brands and non-PR agencies have started to appreciate that sugar coating is beyond last season. And that authenticity should be the unassailable anchor in our strategic and creative thinking.

Of course, the cynic in me always questions whether purpose-led campaigns are truly red-dyed into a brand and businesses’ DNA. Or just a doffing, enough to avoid scoffing, and achieve a tossing of the cap. At first sight, Nike’s “Dream Crazy” celebrating Colin Kaepernick and Volvo’s “Black & Abroad” campaigns appear to have. And Google’s Creatability and Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller certainly have the makings of real movements for good, not just award-hungry campaigns. We. Will. See. A long love bomb is what brands should strive for in my humble opinion.

Rainbow washing

The bad and sad news, however, is that the shallow marketing mills still spew out flagrantly ill-considered and executed inauthentic flotsam and jetsam. Rainbow-washing is the most recent crime. I’m sat in the sun typing this, post London’s glorious Gay Pride, reflecting on how much I enjoy working with Pink News. At the same time, wondering why or who at M&S thought creating an LGBT, (Lettuce, Guacamole, Bacon and Tomato), sandwich without any CRM baked in was a good idea? Perhaps the sarnie belt snuck under the marketing and PR radar?

Mwah and blah.

The shallow marketing mills still spew out flagrantly ill-considered and executed inauthentic flotsam and jetsam

Where’s the respect?

What’s really been bugging me is that if we’d really embraced the Age of Authenticity and taken serious strides towards being transparent and true to who we really are, why are we not now moving into The Age of Respect? This is the natural next step. You show up, warts and all(ish). So do I(ish). Then we can have honest conversations. Agree on some stuff; disagree on other bits; in our honesty, find some mutual respect.

But Respect, disgracefully it seems, in 2019, is still a grey chink of light around most doors. Despite the internet, inconvenient truths are shouted down as fake news. The people in power are the expression and voice box of some of the worst human traits, all born out of, in my view, insecurity. How could Trump be President and BoJo, who I knew in my Oxford days when he hustled us Friday night pint swillers in the King’s Arm’s like a Jimmy no mate court jester, honestly be the next PM? The best person to exemplify and represent GB?

Age of Insecurity

Because, and it’s a quick final point as I’m already way over my wordcount, as eggs is eggs, we’re living in an Age of Insecurity. Which is driving bad behaviour. Bad decisions. Worrying short term consequences. And long ones, if we think about our poor planet, assuming the willy wavers don’t press on the red mushroom button.

I’m clinging to the raft of optimism as I always will. That this is just the state of our global political current path. Yet, if I fear, if it’s the expression of the majority, marketers and brands must stay strong, Put our fingers in the dike. We have the power to influence beyond the dream of affluence.

We’re living in an Age of Insecurity

You have the power

As the guardians of many great, and wanting to be great, brands and businesses, let’s stay strong. And work with our clients to upturn and overthrow this Age of Insecurity. Be Brand Rebels for Good. I honestly believe we can ziggy zag to a better path and place. By helping our clients be the touchstone for authentic good and mutual respect. From the macro to the micro. So put your willies away. It’s time for Brand Right Rebel.

Written by Angie Moxham, founder and CEO of agency The Fourth Angel