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When media met purpose… Becky Willan from pioneering consultancy Given lays down inspirational guidelines at Gluesnight 02


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Launched last autumn, our Gluesnight evenings aim to explore important contemporary business themes with a select audience in an informal setting – and Becky Willan’s presentation was particularly close to our hearts.

Electric Glue became a B Corp accredited agency last year – and we are committed to exploring sustainable modes of growth for our clients.

Introduced at Fora, in Soho, by our very own Pippa Glucklich, Willan’s presentation last week began by reminding us of first principles in business – and outlined how important purpose is becoming as an existential issue for a great many companies.

“Purpose-driven businesses attract and retain the best talent. They innovate more. They’re more distinctive. They have more loyal customers. They perform better on financial markets,” she stated.

Becky has worked at the intersection of profit and purpose for nearly 20 years. Beginning her professional career in sustainability at The Body Shop, she went on to provide consultancy for Unilever, Tesco, SCA and others, then co-founded Given, the original consultancy for purpose-driven businesses, in 2009.

It helps businesses define, embed and activate purpose by bringing together a unique mix of purpose and sustainability expertise, creativity and co-creation. Its clients include John Lewis Partnership, Lloyds Banking Group, IKEA, L’Oreal, Swarovski and Virgin Media O2.

The challenge for business, at a big picture level, Willan told her Gluesnight audience, was to close the gap between aspiration and day-to-day practice.

This purpose gap, she explained, exists because not enough business leaders understand that purpose is about huge transformation and not just a catchy tagline:

“It can’t simply be about creating a mantra that makes everyone feel good while they carry on with business as usual.”

Good governance is vital in this transformation process, she stated, adding that purpose isn’t anti-profit. “It’s about making sure that profit doesn’t come at the expense of harm to people and the planet.”

She concluded: “It’s a big job – and it won’t happen on its own. So let’s get started now!”

We gave guests a copy of Becky's Insiders’ Guide to Purpose booklet, with its passionate call to action from Given’s Chair, Jan Gooding: “Reengineering around purpose means thinking of the business as an organism rather than a machine. Success depends on the ability of the leadership to get all the other workers in the hive to connect and collaborate.”

This chimes absolutely with Electric Glue’s collaborative approach – and our innovative way of working with media owners to get campaigns off the ground.

So understandably – our audience included media owner partners and clients, including Starling Bank, Hofmeister, Totally Money, Emmi and Charlie Bigham’s – our discussion session touched on the implications for media choices.

James Sexton-Barrow from Mobsta argued that when it comes to purpose, marketing in general and media in particular isn’t always top of mind for business because it’s not a huge contributor to their overall carbon emissions.

But Electric Glue founder Simon Orpin explained that the agency has already been able to influence important decisions about media choice. “From a client point of view, it requires bravery,” he acknowledged.

And Pippa Glucklich concluded: “Change is coming. And yes, the steps may be small – but we’ve always believed that small decisions will always add up in the end to something more important.”


Check out our gallery of images from the night, here.