Why Media Arts Lab is doubling its social networks

For the past few decades it has been best known as Apple’s advertising agency. The partnership between the Cupertino tech giant and TBWAMedia Arts Lab was among the closest ever between an agency and a brand. Read any biography of Steve Jobs and you’re sure to find TBWAMAL’s creative president, Lee Clow.

A few years ago, the agency launched a separate social impact division called MALFor Good that focused exclusively on marketing and advertising with the goal of making the world a better place. His most publicized work won gold at the Cannes Lions in 2015 for Conservation International”nature speaksand the agency helped Laurene Powell Jobs launch the nonprofit Super school XQ. Other campaigns include working for Chicago Credita job training and anti-violence organization founded by former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, environmental law organization earthly justice, Best friends animal rescue, Muslim Public Affairs Counciland for-profit philanthropic organization The Emerson Collective. The agency also creates content for the XQ Super School Live show, which will air on CBS, ABC, NBC and FOX on September 8.

But now, aligning with a rising trend in consumer culture and marketing research, MALFor Good is expanding its reach beyond customers with a dot-org, and they aim to help brands of all types to use their marketing strength to do some good while increasing their bottom line. Although the agency says it wants to use its communication skills to help make the world a better place, recent studies suggest it’s also good for business.

A 2016 Edelman study found that 80% of global consumers agree that business should play a role in solving societal problems. Unilever reported in 2016 that 33% of consumers now choose to buy from brands they believe are good for society or the environment. Deloitte reported that 87% of millennials believe business success shouldn’t be based solely on profit.

Wieden+Kennedy Portland and Nike Foundation alum Julia Plowman were named Managing Director of MALFor Good in February, joining Global Creative Chairman Duncan Milner who moved on in October 2016 after leading the creative team at TBWA MAL since 2000. Currently, MAL For Good has 28 andemployees and is expanding with its own offices on the TBWAChiatDay campus. He is also converting a monster tour bus that Mitt Romney used during his presidential campaign into MALFor Good HQ, a social impact incubator on wheels, connecting customers to creative communities.

“We’re growing because more and more brands are investing in social impact,” says Plowman. “We’re here to help them do it right, do it authentically. And that takes strategy, planning and creativity. You can’t just imitate ideas of genuine social goals; you must build them deliberately and diligently. It requires a real investment. And that’s exactly what we specialize in.

After three years of helping various organizations, Plowman says now is the time to expand the work of the social impact agency. Milner adds to that, saying it makes sense as more brands are putting their values ​​into the way they do business. “When we started, we were really focused on Laurene [Jobs] and the needs of Emerson Collective, so we did that for a while,” says Milner. “But now we want to look beyond that to the future. There is a desire for us to grow and build on this work.

It’s an interesting decision to create an entire agency with this focus, given how much work traditional agencies are already doing in this space. State Street”fearless girl“from McCann New York being the most high-profile example, but other award-winning work this year includes”strong girls” for Nestlé, and Nomades Mexico City’s gender-based violence awareness campaign for Tecate. Or Nike”Equality” Work of Wieden+Kennedy. And it’s just around gender issues and inequality.


The agency says the growth in consumer sentiment around social impact and sustainability is strong enough to represent a whole new shift in marketing and advertising, as is the impact of digital and then social media on the retail industry. advertising. Before it became commonplace, there were specialists – and MALFor Good considers itself the social impact specialist. The agency recently worked with Starbucks and Toms.

“It’s the vanguard of a new lens – it’s important to show brands how they can do it,” says Plowman. “Marketing is changing. It becomes deeper, more complex and more transparent. The work we do helps brands communicate their values ​​and beliefs externally, but also internally to employees. Ultimately, our job is to deeply emotionally connect a brand to its various audiences.

The key for any brand looking to do more with their marketing budget is to view it as a long-term investment. Social impact is not a gimmick.

“Are you really into it or not? Your toe is dipped but you don’t engage,” says Plowman. “You can’t change public schools, help health care or poverty with just one time. These are long-term commitments. »


The first questions to ask when integrating social impact into a brand are: what is important to the brand and what is important to its audience? The Venn diagram between the two is a good starting point to find where this mark can have the best and most effective impact.

“For me, it was always about trying to find the truth, in the product, the opportunity, and working from that truth,” says Milner. “It comes down to identifying that truth, which is authentic – let’s talk about it. Once you find that and the audience it will connect with, then you have a path to follow.

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