Peppercomm Launches New Purpose Stress Test to Help Brands Identify and Mitigate Their Risks of “Purpose-Washing”

Solution augments STANDSMART™ offering by helping brands bridge gaps in their purpose that can lead to reputational damage

NEW YORK, Oct. 16, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- To succeed in today’s business environment, a brand needs a strong purpose. Consumers expect it, employees want it and business decision-makers rely on it. But increasingly, organizations that fail to live up to their purpose authentically are being accused of purpose-washing and experiencing serious backlash.

To help brands identify areas of vulnerability and reputational risk, Peppercomm today launched the STANDSMART Purpose Stress Test, a new addition to its STANDSMART offering. STANDSMART is a proprietary methodology that uses a data-driven approach so brands can take the guesswork out of when and how an organization should leverage its purpose to communicate about important societal topics.

“Purpose is one of the most critical business differentiators today. Every business wants to be purpose-driven, but few have tested their purpose for serious gaps,” explains Steve Cody, CEO of Peppercomm. “Our STANDSMART Purpose Stress Test is designed to help brands ensure that they are living their purpose to mitigate the risks that arise when they just pay it lip service. This protects their business from accusations of purpose-washing when they do take a stand.”

The stress test starts with Peppercomm’s comprehensive external experience audit to gather a 360-degree view of a brand’s audience perspectives. Peppercomm then guides a brand’s leaders through an examination of key risk areas to determine the credibility level of the company’s defined positions to help them take an authentic stand.

The key risk areas examined include:

  • Internal: Working with Chief Human Resource Officers and Diversity and Inclusion leaders to identify potential risks that impact employment practices.
  • Business Practices: Integrating with Chief Operations Officers and Chief Financial Officers to understand challenges to business growth.
  • Brand Voice: Collaborating closely with Chief Communications Officers and Chief Marketing Officers to determine whether the brand or company’s voice is consistent across all audience touchpoints.
  • Governance: Engaging Chief Legal Officers and outside counsel to pinpoint potential legal and investment liabilities.
  • Public Affairs: Working with Public and Governmental Affairs to ensure the purpose aligns with such strategies as political action committees, political contributions and lobbying efforts.

Following the comprehensive audits, all purpose-related decisions undergo an audience-centric stress test before they are activated in the market.

“Data shows that consumers increasingly want to make purchases from companies that are purpose-driven,” said Jackie Kolek, Senior Partner and General Manager, Peppercomm New York. “Yet when gaps in purpose are exposed, brands of all types experience backlash and reputational damage.”

To illustrate when a company should consider purpose stress testing, Kolek continued: “Earlier this year we saw a major grooming products company challenge the concept of toxic masculinity with a new ad campaign. While they had an important opportunity, our audit exposed several potential risks including the company’s 'pink tax' on women’s products. How can they fight toxic masculinity when they charge women more for their products? A purpose stress test would have helped them identify and mitigate potential risks to enjoy the full benefits that come with taking a stand.”

To learn more on Peppercomm and the STANDSMART Stress Test, visit

About Peppercomm
Peppercomm is an award-winning strategic, integrated communications and marketing agency headquartered in New York City with offices in San Francisco and London. The firm combines 25 award-winning years of expertise serving blue chip and breakout clients with forward-thinking new service offerings and the freshness of a start-up. This unique mix of experience and energy enables the firm to attract and empower teams with a creative edge, drive and passion for promoting, protecting and connecting clients in a fast-changing marketplace. Founded in 1995, Peppercomm has received numerous accolades, including The Holmes Report’s North American Corporate/B2B Agency of the Year and Bulldog Reporter’s Midsized Agency of the Year. The agency has been listed as one of Fortune’s 10 Best Workplaces in Advertising and Marketing, 100 Best Workplaces for Women, 50 Best Small and Medium Workplaces and 50 Best Workplaces for New College Grads. For more information, visit

Media Contact:

Paul Merchan