When we launched The Saturn Project a year ago our aim was to build an interface between buyers and sellers where both parties respected and trusted each other.
Our motivation was not to exploit a new 'lucrative area' of marketing - or because we were consciously 'surfing the zeitgeist' - but because we'd each of us had enough of the 'business as usual' marketing bullshit we’ve worked in for so long. We didn't want to be part of an industry that wilfully or unknowingly told lies in order to sell stuff.
When the three of us talked about our experience in marketing and advertising we each agreed there’s clearly a small, but genuine, niche of business owners, CMO's and brand managers we know who (perhaps secretly) agree with us. We call this group of enlightened beings 'The 5%' - and it is these good, honest, grown-up clients, partners and collaborators that we want to work with going forward.
Since our launch it seems the business community has been catching up, to the point that our mission now feels far less radical. The 'Search for Trust’ has become something of a mainstream idea increasingly entertained within established and traditional media and organisations.
In September 2019, for example, the Financial Times published its first ever wraparound front page declaring “Capitalism: Time for a Reset” suggesting "The long-term health of free enterprise capitalism will depend on delivering profit with purpose. Companies will come to understand that this combination serves their self-interest as well as their customers and employees. Without change, the prescription risks being far more painful.”
The Economist and Wall Street Journal have asked equally fundamental questions about free-market economic’s ability to serve a world obviously constrained by its finite resources.
What once seemed like heresy now sounds increasingly like common sense. We can feel the corporate landscape shifting, if perhaps a little uncomfortably.
All of which is reflected in this week’s launch of PwC’s 23rd annual CEO Survey which reports on feedback from 1,581 CEO’s in 83 territories.
It found, amongst other things, that 64% of UK chief executives feel climate change is a threat to their organisation, with a quarter claiming to be extremely concerned about the issue. This is triple the rate from 2016 levels, which sat at just 7%.
Now a cynic may view all of this as just so much 'greenwash' and, to some degree, that might be true. But there’s also a genuine desire amongst many CEO's to 'do the right thing', because, as well as offering a clear conscience, many believe such initiatives make good business sense.
Three-quarters of top execs believe that responding to the climate emergency through new business pledges and initiatives will provide a reputational advantage while 51% believe that genuine engagement with climate change will lead to new product and service opportunities.
All of which is generally positive news, so where does The Saturn Project come in?
To which we say it's all very well giving your brand a ‘purpose’ but how effective will these be if the public don't trust you?
That is what Ian, Andy and myself are out to address with clients willing to go on that journey.
So here's to whatever is heading our way in the decade ahead. We're here to create new, honest relationships between corporations and the people they supposedly serve. We're here to clean up the greenwash and build trust, because without trust all of this good work is pointless.
And the time to act is now.