knowing your csi from your esg: what you need to know about successful purpose-led campaigns

Environmental, Social, and Governance – ESG is the latest comms must-consider doing the rounds.  


With a legal obligation and public expectation for all businesses to hit net zero by 2050, work is underway to map out what businesses will look like, with research solutions and myriad ways to invest in the road map being pitched.  


In that process, there is a lot of comms gold, to tell a business story and showcase the next steps to move a sector forward. But we urge caution! Here are a few pointers to keep in mind, when mapping out your business ESG plans and how to communicate them.  



They can smell a fake   

One of the most critical pieces of advice we can give is to only create a purpose-led comms campaign if it is truly genuine. From greenwashing to box ticking, journalists are clued-up and so is the 2022 public audience. Your heart has to be in it, otherwise you are in for a crisis instead of praise.  


For instance, in 2021, Shell had an advert to give customers the option of ‘carbon neutral’ fuel with an offset fee. However, the backlash on not reducing emissions and falsehoods on claims was taken up by Dutch students and blew the initial campaign aims out of the water. If the intent isn’t to genuinely do good, then just don’t.  


Not all caring audiences are the same   

In terms of messaging and your target audience, it is important to note that audiences will have different priority levels when it comes to what they value in purpose-led and good businesses.  


For instance, in Kantar’s report – Who cares, who does 2021, there are three distinct eco-audiences. The eco-actives, who are shoppers that are highly concerned about the environment, and are taking many actions to reduce their impact. They feel an intrinsic responsibility to be more sustainable, follow the topic actively and have a greater awareness.  


Then there are the eco-considerers, described as shoppers who are worried about the environment and are taking some actions to reduce their impact. Their barriers are convenience and price.  


Lastly there are the eco-dismissers who are shoppers that have little or no interest in the environment and are not taking steps to reduce their impact. They lack awareness of environmental concerns and do not believe they can make a difference.  


What is important to note here is that each year the figures for eco-actives are rising, while for eco-dismissers it’s falling, showing the need for your business to start thinking about ESG and the messaging thereof.  




Pick causes that are aligned to your business  

In terms of CSI initiatives, or the ways that your business chooses to offset and give back should be aligned to your business. This is to help this area of messaging fit seamlessly into your overall brand.  


For instance, for Uber Boat by Thames Clippers, as a mode of transport it is synonymous with positive mental health as it is a stress free and visually pleasing way to travel through London. For a purpose-led campaign Siren created and hosted Café Conversations onboard, a way to bring people together from all walks of life who feel lonely or isolated – an increasing problem in modern London.  


In this way the brand created a positive moment for the London community, which also highlighted the transport’s USP. You can read more about this campaign here.   


It’s a journey, there’s no fast-track option 

Some businesses think you can only speak to media once they are 100% perfect, green and community positive. However, journalists and readers alike are well aware that sustainability and social causes are a journey, and that many incumbent businesses need to u-turn, research and develop solutions, and create paths to better business practices.  


It is the achievements along this journey that are worth celebrating, and your clients will want to celebrate those milestones with you.  


Siren Comms’ ethos is to strive to create the best results for our people, our clients, our business and the planet. Therefore, we have a number of not-for-profit, CSI and sustainability clients which we have created purpose-led campaigns for.  


To find out more about what purpose-led campaigns we could run for your business contact us at