Measuring the effectiveness of purpose campaigns

Published by Lisa Basford on

photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

More and more campaigns with “purpose” are catching the eye of consumers. This means marketing activity that is not just about selling products or services, but ads that seek to drive positive change and speak to higher social values. These campaigns can resonate with the audience when done well or attract claims of woke-washing when not. So, is it possible to measure the effectiveness of purpose campaigns?

Collaborate on the campaign brief

If you think about it, the intersection of Marketing and Sustainability is a great place to start when writing a campaign brief, which is why it makes sense to get input from CR and Marketing teams. Their different drivers and measures of success will likely fuel interesting debates about how to creatively connect with the target audience AND drive positive behaviour change. In turn, this can spark transformational, bold creative. Be clear from the get-go what are the Marketing and ESG objectives and how you will measure the effectiveness of the campaign.

Who did it well?

Iceland made headlines in the run up to Christmas 2018, unlike the expected family tucking into a hearty Christmas dinner, they featured Rang-tan, an orangutang made homeless due to the deforestation of the rain forest. The ad was made in association with Greenpeace and was described as a “festive masterstroke” in Marketing Week.  Iceland was the first major supermarket to remove palm oil from its own-brand products, but their ad was deemed to breach political advertising rules and could not be aired. A study by Kantar Millward Brown ranked the ad as number 1 for effectiveness amongst the Christmas ads that year, reviewing factors like “involvement’, ‘brand love’, ‘enjoyment’, ‘persuasion’, ‘relevant’ and ‘different from others’”.

In 2020, the Co-op joined forces with ‘man of the moment’, Marcus Rashford, to promote FareShare, encouraging donations to the food-distributing charity. The collaboration helped to raise over £5m and helped to earn Co-Op the title of Brand of the Year in the Purpose Awards.

Measuring campaign effectiveness

Usual metrics to measure the effectiveness of the campaign apply here – viewers, impressions, click through rates, website traffic etc. The return on investment of your marketing campaign can be tracked and tell you how effective you are at finding, reaching and connecting with the audience, they help you to understand your brand equity (pre and post campaign).

Benchmark results with other commercial campaigns to see how it compares.

Metrics for Social Impact

Understanding if your campaign has delivered “good” or “positive change” might be trickier (particularly in the short term) but it is possible to do. It’s important to try to measure the social impacts – they are an important metric for stakeholders, and by reviewing results it can help you to plan future activity.

 Things you can measure include:

  • Downloads of campaign materials
  • Money donated to a good cause
  • Signature to a cause or petition
  • Changes in purchasing behaviour (eg shift to electric vehicles or seasonal foods)
  • New habits (see below)

New habits

It’s worth dedicating the time and effort to understand the behaviour change that has been created. Find out what motivates your target audience to take action (or not). Look at all the data available – has purchase behaviour shifted, have opinions changed? For example, are customers buying more locally produced goods, are they using fewer plastic bags, using less polluting vehicles?

Why? How? What? Understanding the motivation for any behaviour change, how it was done and what was achieved is critical for analysing social impact and for measuring the effectiveness of purpose campaigns.

See my article here on Measuring Social Impact.


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