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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn Butler-Madden

12 Good News Stories From 2019

Updated: Mar 24

With Christmas just a few short days away and 2020 literally around the corner, I’m sure we can all agree that 2019 has truly passed us in the blink of an eye.

As we begin to slow down and reflect on the year, I know from some of the conversations that I've been having, that many of us are concerned and frustrated about some of the developments we see happening in the world that feel dark and negative.

Yet it’s important to realise that in the face of this, we are seeing a parallel force of positivity, with many business stepping into a role where they become a force for good.  In fact, 2019 has been quite the monumental year for social purpose, cause marketing and business as a force for good. 

I'd like to celebrate this by reflecting on just some of these good news stories from the past year.

2019 kicked off to a great start with Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock, building on last year's shareholder letter about the need for businesses to have a social purpose beyond profit. This year's letter highlighted that purpose and profit are inextricably linked; that the world needs real leadership from CEOs; and that to remain competitive, businesses must respond to the new expectations of purpose that Millennials have of companies they work for and buy from. You can read the full letter here.

In September, the Business Roundtable, who represent the USA's largest corporations, came out with their new definition of the Purpose of a corporation. In the 300 word statement, the term ‘shareholder value’ was not mentioned until word 250. Their commitments included delivering value to customers, investing in employees, dealing fairly and ethically with suppliers, supporting communities AND THEN generating long-term value for shareholders. You can read the full statement here.

Hot on the heels of The Business Roundtable, the Financial Times in October released their New Agenda campaign, calling for a better form of capitalism. The campaign encourages business leaders to find opportunity in the new normal and promote stronger corporate purpose.

The climate strikes in September also saw a happy collision of worlds between businesses and individuals, both taking action on the shared cause. As a result we saw millions of people striking worldwide, as well as 3156 Australian and New Zealand businesses joining the ‘Not Business As Usual’ movement, in which businesses supported the Climate Strikes by pledging to provide their employees with a paid time off to attend the strikes. You can see who joined the movement here.

2019 has also been a great year for some epic Cause Marketing campaigns from businesses looking to make a lasting positive impact. 

Parley for the Oceans has executed two successful partnerships with two large corporations- American Express and Corona. Their American Express partnership saw the introduction of credit cards made of recycled plastic, whilst Corona have continued working towards their mission to “Protect Paradise” - protecting 100 islands around the world by 2020, through their Parley partnership.

Corona's "Pay With Plastic" campaign which launched on World Ocean's Day on June 8th, invited consumers to buy beer in exchange for plastic waste at retailers and bars in Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Spain and Colombia. 

In July, Nike saw the womens FIFA World Cup as an opportunity to get behind and amplify the cause of gender equality and equal pay. What came of this was their ‘Dream’ Campaign, which captured it’s audience through emotional and inspirational short videos. Despite Adidas being the primary sponsor of the event, Nike was named the big brand winner, with the most engagement, helping to create the most successful Women’s World Cup to date. 

After the USA women's team's success in the women's FIFA World Cup, Procter & Gamble’s Secret deodorant brand in the USA ran an ad in the New York Times calling for women’s equal pay, supported by video ads stating “Equal Work. Equal Sweat. Equal Pay”.

Leveraging off their sponsorship of the US women’s national soccer team, Secret back up their call for equal pay with a financial pledge. They committed to donate US$529,000 to US women players. The amount represents $23k for each of the 23 athletes in the World Cup team.

Back here in Australia, NRMA Home Insurance launched an emotive campaign partnering with Conservation Volunteers Australia, to help preserve vital koala habitat. As part of their 3 year partnership, NRMA committed to plant a koala-friendly tree for every new insurance policy sold until the end of this year in NSW and Queensland. The ad features Arlo, an 18-month-old koala, who has reportedly become the highest paid debut commercial actor in Australia this year (but is donating his “fee” to Conservation Volunteers Australia, so they can protect more koala homes)!

With the loss of 95% of the koala population, due to deforestation, bushfires and climate change, the need to act to protect those remaining becomes urgent and critical and this campaign has helped to create that awareness.

Despite the initial back and forth ruckus, major Australian grocers Coles and Woolworths finally put a ban on single use plastic bags. We also saw Vancouver’s East West Market redesign their plastic bags in an attempt to further deter customers from buying them. Text on the new bag designs feature- “Wart Ointment Wholesale”, “The Colon Care Co-op” and the “Weird Adult Video Emporium”!

2019 has also seen the growth of the plant-based movement, in an attempt to improve environmental footprints as well as engaging in more ethical practices and operations. New major players in this field include Hungry Jacks, who rolled out the impossible whopper this year, as well as Ikea, who has announced that their meatless meatball will soon be added to to menus

As we all know, bees play a large part in the maintenance of our ecosystem. This year we saw Pappa Johns do their part in protecting them, by creating 2 pizza’s- ‘The Beeza’, an awareness-driving 1 inch mini pizza for bee’s, designed with all their favourite ingredients and the ‘Bee Sting’, which allowed customers to donate to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust upon purchase.

REI have taken their annual #OptOutside campaign one step further this year. As well as closing their stores on Black Friday, giving staff a paid day of leave and encouraging people to enjoy the outdoors, instead of being in the shopping aisles, the retailer is inviting them to join the fight against climate change and #OptToAct, by picking up litter outside. They’ve also released a 52 week plan for consumers to reduce their carbon footprints beyond the one day.


I hope this post gives you a healthy shot of optimism for the future.

There is much to be positive about and I'm excited to see how 2020 unfolds and to be a part of building the business for good movement. 

With all this inspiration, I'd like to invite you to reflect on what you are planning to do in 2020 to shape a better business and a better world. I can promise you one thing... once you start using your influence in your business to act for positive change, it's hard to go back to doing things the old way.

REMEMBER, doing good is good for business. So if you're not doing any good... what are you doing?

P.S. When you're ready, here are 4 ways I can help you to build your Social Purpose strategy:

4. Take the first step and contact us to book a 90 minute Strategy Session.

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