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Time to gamify change through purpose: movements keep on moving

By Scott Goodson, Chief executive officer



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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January 3, 2020 | 7 min read

Recently the first ever empirical measure of Brand Purpose, called the Purpose Power Index was launched. This is the largest study ever measuring perceptions of brand purpose based on 17,500 individualized responses among over 7,500 US consumers. The Purpose Power Index showed us that consumers are calling BS on purpose brands with only 27% of consumers aware of brand purpose, a surprisingly low number at a time when most CEOs and CMOs claim to have a robust and relevant purpose.


What’s happening here? Brands talk about purpose, CEOs hang purpose statements in their offices, but fail to activate purpose through their organization or among consumers. At StrawberryFrog, we apply the principles of societal movements to activate brand purpose inside companies among employees, stakeholders and among consumers.

We’ve turned movement marketing into a science – an ever evolving one. We are always absorbing and applying the latest news and insights around social movements, whether they’re from the past or present, globalized or localized. It keeps us fresh, fun and hungry for more. So, what can we learn from sardines, Hong Kong, anti-anti-vaxers, British nudists and the Squawk Squad?

Gamifying change – through purpose

For ‘millennial on a mission’, Fraser McConnell, it all began with looking for a new sense of purpose, according to ‘How to grow the conservation movement: make it addictive’.

McConnell’s best friend had just died, and a planned corporate career suddenly became less appealing. He wondered how he could make an impact. Research led him to a major problem in New Zealand: how native wildlife is being driven to extinction by foreign predators and pests. It triggered his engrained love for nature – something that connected him with many New Zealanders.

Today, his award-winning social enterprise Squawk Squad has gamified the process of pest control, with trap donors being able to follow the effects of their generosity in real-time. It makes protecting native birds “addictively awesome”.

The Squawk Squad has also inspired 45,000 kids through education programmes, which are “designed to be fun, which is a way of making grim topics like kauri dieback something that kids want to engage with. Classrooms plant trees and clean up rivers, but also start thinking about wider things they can do,” says McConnell.

“The really inspiring thing is that they’re learning about global challenges, and then they’re really taking local action.”

The light touch

There’s nothing fishy about it: Italians are packing themselves into squares to wave glitter-painted cut-outs of sardines. Yes, revolution can be fun!

The Sardine Movement began as a one-off flashmob in Bologna to protest the visit of anti-immigrant populist Matteo Salvini. It struck a chord. Now, the event is attracting tens of thousands in every city that the divisive politician appears,according to ‘Politics with panache can defeat the hard right’.

The key to the movement’s success is its sense of inclusivity, with political banners and any other sign of political affiliation being banned. The aim of the game is to stay moderate and tolerant. Any negativity is greeted by song. Both pundits and public polls now regard the happily subversive Sardines as a greater threat to Salvini’s ambitions than any of the competing political parties.

“This is a tide worth swimming with.”

Know your enemy

Indeed, it’s good to know your enemy – and to fight that enemy with not only a sense of inclusion but also a clarity of vision. Certainly, in a time when there’s a senseless increase in deaths from measles, we need more articles like ‘Why we need to start a new pro-vaccine movement’.

It’s time for science to form a collective voice that does more than deride the anti-vaccine movement. This has only increased the spotlight on the misleading messages of what’s amarginal group. We must also stand ready to answer individuals with “vaccine hesitancy” in a normal way.

“Being hesitant means one is curious about a topic or has concerns or questions and this is absolutely legitimate. Those who are hesitant are raising questions and they deserve answers. It would be a fundamental mistake not to appropriately address those questions in a transparent and respectful way.”

Staying united

Movements can easily splinter and dilute. Just look at the history of British nudists (who as a group have a justifiablefear of splinters of all types). According to ‘The struggle within the naturist movement – archive, 1969’, it came down to a battle between the “hedonists” who were comfortable with the idea that nudity may sometimes lead to sex, and the “disciplinarians” who believed nudism is a greater calling and therefore had to adhere to a higher morality. These differences proved irreconcilable.

Meanwhile, today’s Hong Kong protesters seem more united than ever, even while there seems to be an increased division between nonviolent ones and those willing to clash with police. Up to a million people marched together in early December.

A shared sense of identity is key, according to ‘What the Hong Kong protests can teach the world about enduring social movements’. “We’re all Hongkongers. Our beliefs are the same, what we’re fighting for is the same, though our methods may not be the same,” says one activist

Decentralisation is also key to the movement’s durability. But this is about being leader-full and not leaderless. “When you have a leader-full movement it’s very hard to pick a target… the movement will survive because everyone will take ownership of the movement,” says another activist.

“And it’s about being nimble enough to adapt to changing circumstances.”

We’ll continue to watch and learn.

Scott Goodson, founder and chairman, StrawberryFrog


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StrawberryFrog is the world’s first Movement Marketing firm. We are a marketing, advertising, design and digital company based in New York City. Brand-fueled marketing...

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