I blame the avocados

Leith Planner Vic is happy without a higher purpose, thanks.

Image credit: Brenda Godinez

I am baffled by the popularity of avocados and in the past few years I have found myself alone, stranded on an island of one.

But lately it seems the world is coming to its senses.

So maybe not all my comrades are shining examples of intelligence (notably this guy, who is maybe a bit of a nob). But, nob or not, I do agree with him on the whole avocado on toast thing. Not least because there is a far more important reason you should stop eating avocados immediately; and that is the small matter of deforestation in Mexico.

I’m thinking that maybe this worship of the fudgy, smooshy, tasteless pear is a symptom of a much bigger never-ending trend: the desire for “authenticity and honesty”, which is the trend that keeps on giving…….giving us twats who look like Victorian magicians, who take up urban axe throwing and open cafes that sell stinging nettles and white dog poo…purely because it’s AUTHENTIC!!!

(It’s funny, but you’d think that deforestation would be slightly troubling to these ‘authentic honesty seekers’ ).

But what does this mean now? Authenticity? Does it mean that in order to appeal to punters we have to reformulate our products to be made entirely from ambergris and owl pellets?

NO, it seems that it means everything needs to have a ‘HIGHER PURPOSE’

Ok, so I get that we are all living in a post-truth world where, whether I like it or not, what we buy has to be ‘truthful’ and stand for something. ‘Honesty’ has taken on a new meaning — no, hold on — it has reclaimed its old meaning…

And this has led to the requirement for every brand out there to have a ‘HIGHER PURPOSE’ regardless of what this brand’s ‘actual purpose’ is. Cue burger chains curing sadness with a fish sandwich and a bottle of pop ceasing political unrest. Forgive me: but WTF?

The reason given for this is that we have all lost faith in the traditional institutions that were our historical moral guides, so now we need a high street shop and a beer brand to help us navigate what is right and wrong:

I suppose there is nothing to be surprised at here; we can’t trust our traditional institutions when the world has gone to hell in an handcart, so why not turn to the things we get pleasure from spending our money on?

Some brands have been doing this for decades (if a little clumsily in the early days), but the common denominator here is relevance; the stats and insights in this Nike advert are relevant to their core purpose of getting everyone to do a bit more sport:

Kenco went that bit further by setting up Coffee Vs Gangs, a pioneering scheme to give young Hondurans a route out of the spiral of Gang Life by giving them training and financial support to become coffee farmers.

This brilliant ad from Maltesers does diversity very well and without the contrivance of trying to save the world (unless the world can be saved by hand-jobs?) They simply stayed true to their enduring mission of ‘seeing the lighter side of life.’

It’s the all-mouth-and-no-trousers brands that have just decided to jump on the Purpose McPurpface bandwagon, that are troubling me… for instance, I just heard that Barry Scott from Cillit Bang is tipped to become the next Prime Minister.

The thing that is a bit baffling about the new wave of brands who have got it all a bit wrong is that they had very decent purposeful adverts in the first place. The McDonalds “Good to Know” adverts, for example, had a very valid and relevant message of authenticity delivered with humour:

M&S’s Plan A scheme is one of the highest regarded CSR programmes in modern times. And tell me: what is wrong with a beer advert being ‘all about the beer’?

I don’t disagree that brands should have a clear purpose, but does it have to be so bloody lofty and self important? It feels a bit disingenuous to pretend that a beer advert is the best forum to have the conversation about tolerance and diversity when we all know they are just trying to get us all a bit pissed. Plus, in order to do that, they’ve tricked folk into spending time with people who do not respect their basic human rights.

The net result is that the brands involved end up looking even more dishonest and in-authentic. I wonder if we should maybe go back to telling people the truth about the fact that we‘re all just trying to sell something?