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Beyond Brand Purpose: The Future of Brand Activism Launch


To launch TCO London’s Insight capability we have published an in-depth report on a key issue that many of our clients are struggling with: brand activism. We wanted to look at how to align the traditional, commercial needs of a brand within this ever-changing landscape.

The relationship between brand and ‘consumer’ has altered dramatically, and it’s imperative brands understand this change - the need for a clear purpose, action not intention, transparency internally and externally, and the growing expectation that they will begin to adapt their practices to become a force for good. We were fortunate to interview some leading brands within this space for our report, to assess the real challenges that lie ahead in 2019 and beyond, and also to offer some learnings and strategic recommendations.

The report was the focus of a discussion at our launch event in London, attended by 60 marketers, and with a panel featuring Ed Shepherd, Ben & Jerry's Head of Activism; Jessie Macneil-Brown, Body Shop’s Head of Global Activism; Rhodri Evans, Levi’s European Brand Engagement Manager; and Tom Kay, founder of sustainable surf brand Finisterre.


To kick off the event, Head of Insight at TCO Helen Job shared key findings on the topic:

"Brand activism is not something to be ignored, or to be worried about in some imagined future. The future is now. The rules of the relationship between people, product and the planet are being completely re-written. If brands don’t get onboard with this, they risk vilification, or even obsolescence. Our report is an essential read, detailing how in identifying a core brand purpose and reason to believe, brands and companies at large can make strategic decisions that align with their values and still effect positive change.”

Moderated by Huck’s Associate Editor, Niall Flynn, our panellists discussed how brands can embrace activism in different ways from policy making to enabling access to building emotional connections. We explored a range of themes throughout the event, here are some highlights from each of our panelists:

“Brand’s shouldn’t just consider a narrative change when getting involved in brand activism, they should be driving systematic change to ensure real action is taken.” Ed Shepherd, Head of Activism at Ben & Jerry’s.

“Integrity and honesty needs to run through everything, from your people internally to your communications externally. It has to be inside and out” - Rhodri Evans Levi’s European Brand Engagement Manager

“Collaborate with your competitors, governments won’t just trust one brand, you need to collaborate and bring coalitions together.” Jessie Macneil-Brown, Body Shop’s Head of Global Activism

“We’re trying to encourage emotional connections with our products, so the longer you have it, the more you love it. We hope that the ethos of what we stand for as a brand and our sustainability message educates the customers on how to make their products last as long as possible.” Tom Kay, Founder of Finisterre.

When asked about the decline of the highstreet, Jessie Macneil-Brown mentioned that The Body Shop aims to turn its stores into ‘activist hubs’, this story was later picked up in a Marketing Week article along with another article on How Ben & Jerry’s and Levi’s put activism at the heart of their brands. Sportswear International also covered the event from a fashion perspective, you can see their write up here.

If you are interested in finding out more about our first report - Beyond Brand Purpose: The Future of Brand Activism please contact