We have to take stereotypes out of advertisements: Paul Polman

Paul Polman, President of the ICC, Chairman of the B-Team and Vice-Chair of the UN Global Compact, and Unilever CEO from January 2009 to December 2018, gave a passionate talk on ‘Shaping Society Through Purposeful Business’ and urged companies to run their businesses by heart, because he felt that businesses can’t succeed in a society that fails. 

According to Polman, value and trust are two important elements for a company. However, currently, trust is low in the industry because of fake news, frauds, unethical employment practices, sexual harassment, etc. 

“As advertisers, we should look and hear from a consumer’s view point, since consumers judge us by what we do and not by what we say. One won’t have long term profit if the business is run without purpose. Citizens expect companies to address on critical social issues. If businesses don’t have advocacy, consumers won’t trust a brand.” 

Continuing further, Polman lamented that, “In this world we have enough to fulfil human needs, but not human greed.” He stressed that in order to face the challenges we faced today, we have to look to decarbonise, have longer term business model, move towards circular economy and be sure to have inclusive economy. “We have to take stereotypes out of advertisements. Drive social standards on social platforms,” he urged. 

He further stressed, “You cannot run businesses with freedom without responsibility. If we don’t protect it, we won’t have a future. Partnership is important to work on sustainable growth – a partnership which is for a common good. Putting other’s interests before ours is very important, because although we have the resources to help the society, all we are missing is the human will power. Tech has connected us better with people, but has also given us loneliness.” 

Polman closed his speech by requesting the audience that “if you belong to 2 per cent of the population, think about 98 per cent of the population and live responsibly”.


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