Looking at Microsoft’s advertising, it’s apparent that the tech giant is a fan of purpose. Some of the brand’s more eye-catching and prominent work includes 2018’s campaign for the Xbox Adaptive Controller and last year’s Super Bowl ad featuring former San Francisco 49ers coach Katie Sowers, an Adweek Pride Star, the first woman to coach in the big game. Industry experts believe that Microsoft’s deep commitment to inclusion—internally with its employee makeup and externally in its marketing—helps inform authenticity in how the brand is positioned.
“The great thing about Microsoft is that they aren’t just a purpose-led marketer. They are a purpose-led organization. They are always striving and innovating to make the world a more inclusive place. And our job is to tell those stories as magically as we can,” said Sean Bryan, McCann North America co-CCO.
Josh Loebner, director of strategy, diversity, equity and inclusion at Designsensory and a member of Adweek’s DEI Council, said that Microsoft is light years ahead of many other brands.
“I believe that every brand that is welcoming people with disabilities is making positive and significant strides,” he added. “But Microsoft ensures that it’s deeply integrated into its products and [culture].”
There is plenty of more straightforward advertising from the brand, but putting purpose at the core has become more evident in the journey towards more inclusive marketing. At CES last week, MJ DePalma, Microsoft’s head of multicultural and inclusive advertising, shared new research that continues to tell the story of how purpose can drive customer loyalty and growth.
DePalma also referred to the brand’s “Marketing With Purpose Playbook,” a publicly-available resource for any brand or marketer. Here are a few important observations and data points on how brands can map a purpose journey.
Trust and love
More research lends credence to the theory that brands putting purpose at the center tend to not only gain admiration from consumers but perform better financially as well. According to DePalma, this works in less outward-facing actions to the public, like sourcing more socially-conscious and diverse suppliers. When a brand walks the talk, it builds meaning and, crucially, trust and loyalty.
“Our research shows that values drive value,” said DePalma. “Shared meaning between a person and a brand can begin to co-author a trusted relationship.”
One example of purpose in action that built trust and love is Crocs. DePalma shared a clip from a Microsoft Advertising show where Heidi Cooley, Crocs head of global marketing, outlined the brand’s response as the pandemic started gaining more momentum. She learned that healthcare workers needed the functional benefits of the product, comfort, ease of putting on/taking off and cleaning.
“We knew we were a brand that had to respond,” Cooley noted.
In the end, Crocs gave away 860,000 pairs of footwear to what she termed “healthcare heroes,” valued at over $40 million. To DePalma, it’s a clear example of the right way to approach purpose, considering that Microsoft’s research indicated that 85% of consumers say that they’ll only consider a brand if they trust it.
Showing a “loyalty curve” to further illustrate the point, it charts the path of responsibility, values and inclusion—three core building blocks—related to brand love and trust. Nailing all three components leads to loyalty.
“The key is demonstrating actions [in all three areas],” said DiPalma.
The risk of not tending to this vital consumer garden can be catastrophic. According to Microsoft’s research, 63% of people stop purchasing from a brand because they lost trust. But, what’s most telling is that almost 70% would never buy from the brand again.