How can inclusive campaigns go beyond purpose-washing?

The 7Ps of traditional campaigns aren't enough. We need a few more Ps: Purpose, personalisation, and co-creation partnerships.

inclusive marketing campaigns

Middle East audiences have made their expectations from brands and campaigns extremely clear: They are demanding authenticity, genuine value, and brand purpose within a brand’s positioning and messaging.

While traditional marketing comprised a laser focus on the 7Ps of marketing, including product, price, place, promotion, people, process, and physical evidence, the new era of marketing has also demanded a few more Ps such as purpose, personalisation, and co-creation partnerships.

However, getting purpose-led campaigns on point involves a concerted effort to prevent purpose-washing.

Nour Hamam, a marketer with mobile performance platform XY ads and the mother of a seven-year-old boy on the spectrum, spoke to Campaign Middle East and called up the memory of what she felt was a “brilliant” purpose-driven campaign that included autistic individuals.

“In a market saturated with generic messages, the stain removal brand Vanish’s ‘More Than Just Clothes’ campaign (under the Reckitt umbrella) included autistic individuals and highlighted their unique attachment to familiar clothing. An authentic and evocative portrayal of living with autism, the film reflects that the condition can be challenging but also empowering. It doesn’t shy away from depicting autistic traits such as stimming and shutdowns, while simultaneously showcasing Ash’s warmth, talent, friendship, and humour,” Hamam explained.

The film, shot by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, The Danish Girl) through SMUGGLER, follows a day in the life of 15-year-old autistic girl, Ash. Cast alongside her real family and best friends, the film portrays Ash’s elemental relationship with her favourite hoodie, which is central to the bespoke script.

“I resonate deeply with this campaign. My son is brilliant in every sense of the word – a little too smart for his own good – but he sometimes has sensory issues and is attached to particular pieces of clothing,” Hamam said.

“When I came across the Vanish campaign on The Drum, I was struck by the profound insight behind it. Advocating for people on the autism spectrum (or parents with kids on the spectrum) through showcasing campaigns that feature or talk about what it’s like to be autistic with sensory issues means a lot to a mom like me. It promotes advocacy and ensures that messages are aligned. By drawing parallels with this brand, it ensures top-of-mind awareness,” she added.

What’s interesting is that the campaign didn’t end there. “It went the full circle,” Hamam shared. She, of course, was referring to the fact that the Vanish campaign invited people to pledge to raise awareness, stating that for every pledge Vanish would donate £10 to the Ambitious about Autism charity, up to a maximum of £50,000.

“It always goes a long way when a brand draws the full circle and ties it in with CTA and raises donations to an important cause. It adds credibility, trust, and a little emotional connection to the consumer,” Hamad said.

We then dug a little deeper to see what other brands, besides Vanish, have struck the right chord. Microsoft, IKEA, and Apple came up in conversation.

“Love what IKEA has done to reduce the sensory overload for people who are sensitive to loud announcements, never ending mazes, and bright lights,” Hamam explained.

What does the consumer experience with these brands teach you as a marketer, I asked.

Hamam said, “Inclusive marketing strategies are a testament to the brand’s commitment to diversity, fostering a sense of belonging and connection among its consumers. Brands should take it a step further by tying up with support groups or parents with neurodivergent kids to make sure their voices are heard and they are seen. CSR campaigns should support these communities or includes a help center. Always end with a clear call to action, showing how consumers can benefit and understand the impact.”

“After all, sales aren’t the only ultimate goal,” she concluded.