January 17, 2019

GILLETTE TO STARBUCKS: “Brand Purpose” Is A Lie.

In recent years, companies have been told that they need a purpose, a reason for existing beyond making money. Consumers look for authenticity, and prospective employees want to work somewhere that makes the world better. “Purpose” has been touted as the key to 21st-century success by both the Harvard Business Review and Fast Company.

Johnson and Johnson claims, “We put the needs and well-being of the people we serve first.” Starbucks exists “to inspire and nurture the human spirit–one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” State Street made a statue of an empowered little girl facing down Wall Street’s bull.

With the world’s top companies staring nobly into the middle distance, it seemed to be the dawn of something magnificent: capitalism with a soul.

LOL, just kidding.

State Street underpays women. Starbucks paid no U.K. corporate tax for three years on sales of £1.2 billion (about $1.5 billion), thus failing to nurture my local neighborhoods by paying for police, social services, or even street sweepers. Johnson and Johnson kept 98% of its cash offshore in 2017–almost $42 billion.

When companies are talking about something other than their products, I assume it’s because they don’t want us talking about their product — or their management.

UPDATE: Saw a great term on Facebook: “Wokewashing.”

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