Unilever boss warns "woke-washing" is destroying trust in brands

Josh Hall's picture

So-called "woke-washing", whereby brands use the language of social justice to boost sales, risks destroying trust in advertising.

This is according to Unilever chief executive Alan Jope, who said that brands who align themselves with what are seen to be worthy causes, but that do not "walk the talk" by following through with meaningful action, could further diminish public faith in the industry "when it is already in short supply."

As The Guardian reports, Jope told an audience in Cannes: "Woke-washing is beginning to infect our industry.

"It's putting in peril the very thing which offers us the opportunity to help tackle many of the world's issues."

He continued: "Purpose-led brand communication is not just a matter of 'make them cry, make them buy.' It's about action in the world."

Recent years have seen a spate of brands trying to align themselves with popular causes considered to be 'social justice' issues.

In the most notorious example, a 2017 Pepsi commercial featured model Kendall Jenner mediating between protesters and police in a spot that many commentators saw as an attempt to 'cash in' on the Black Lives Matter movement.

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