Brands must stop pandering to purposes they’re not connected with, Koala marketing boss tells Mumbrellacast

Marketers need to stop allowing their brands to pander to purpose, chief marketing and technology officer for Koala, Peter Sloterdyk, has told the Mumbrellacast in an episode available to listen to now.

Speaking to Mumbrella’s head of content, Damian Francis during Pride Month, Sloterdyk delivered a strong opinion on the growing regularity of brands attaching themselves to causes, particularly when it is without the necessary thought required to do justice to the strategy.

“I never think it is more prevalent than during an acknowledgment month, whether that is Pride Month or, in the States, Black History month,” he said. “When brands do what is currently called ‘rainbow washing’ and brands turn their logo rainbow and make a $10,000 donation to a queer organisation one way or another – it is pandering. There is nothing authentic about it. If you don’t support that community, whatever that community is, the other 11 months of the year, there is nothing genuine about what you are doing.


“I find it very funny, I have used the phrase before, it turns out that my wallet works the other 11 months of the year as well as a queer consumer, I also spend money outside of the month of June, it’s so weird. This is where we come down to representation.

“The idea that there is a mad dash to adhere your brand to a cause, a belief, an effort in one way or another, but if you do not have representation in your company that is connected to that community or cause, you’re gonna mess it up. You are absolutely going to mess it up.”

Sloterdyk insisted that brands need to be fully-engaged with the causes they attach themselves to, including having the campaign created and executed by people directly associated in some way with the cause.

Hornby was one of the brands most recently questioned by consyumers over authenticity

“For the companies that are running a pride campaign right now, was there a queer person involved in what that is for your brand? And if the answer is ‘no’, turn it off right now and stop spending money on it immediately, and get people involved. Because you don’t have enough representation in your team and you’re not paying attention the other 11 months of the year.

“When a brand is trying to connect with a belief system and a purpose, you’ve got to make sure that it is authentically connected to the representation of your workforce and who is involved and how you are creating that particular connection otherwise not only will it fail, it will likely create a crisis for your brand.”

Sloterdyk spoke to Francis for the Mumbrellacast over 45 minutes in a wide-ranging interview that touched on running the marketing for one of Australia’s most well-known startups from the other side of the world (Denver, Colorado), taking on the leadership of the technology side of the business as well as marketing, and toning down some of the messaging in order to appeal to a wider market while not losing the Koala authenticity.

You can listen to the full interview here:


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