Marketing industry can do more societal good - Johnny Pawlik

The marketing industry can do much more good for society than it currently is doing, according to the co-founder of a purpose-driven agency.

Johnny Pawlik is the co-founder of Mantra Media.
Johnny Pawlik is the co-founder of Mantra Media.

Johnny Pawlik set up Mantra Media with his business partner Masa Kuno in 2015. The agency employs 50 staff between its offices in Sheffield and Kyoto, Japan.

Mr Pawlik is hoping to grow Mantra towards becoming a Saatchi & Saatchi sized business but with a purpose.

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He told The Yorkshire Post: “A lot of people in marketing are just motivated by profit. We believe in things the other way around.

“Be motivated by your purpose, by your ‘why’, and profit will be the result. I believe that marketing firms have a responsibility to do more in the world and give back.”

Mr Pawlik met Masa Kuno at university and the two bonded over the belief that both Japan and England could learn a lot from each other’s respective cultures.

After launching Mantra Media in Sheffield, the business started to scale up quickly and ended up opening an office in Japan.

“We are a purpose driven branding and marketing firm based in the UK and Japan,” Mr Pawlik says. “Our whole ethos is driven by ethics guided by knowledge.”

He added: “We generally only work with businesses that meet our values and our ethics. That means, regardless of what the economic return is, we will only work with businesses that have clean supply chains and are not causing havoc in the world.”

The business has run successful campaigns for charities such as a Together Women and The Really Neet Project.

Mr Pawlik points to how Edward Bernays, the godfather of marketing and PR, developed an influential campaign called Torches of Freedom for big tobacco companies to encourage women to take up smoking.

He said: “There’s a history of marketing being quite evil, commodifying nature and things like that. I felt that if this apparatus could be used for bad things, it can also be used to cause good in the world.

“That’s where my impetus comes from. Me and Masa have the same values and we wanted to create a company that actually has those values.”

Mantra Media has plans to grow its workforce and turnover over the next decade and become a major player in marketing.

“I would like to see us, perhaps in the next ten years, become an agency that is recognised among the likes of Sapient Nitro or Saatchi & Saatchi,” Mr Pawlik said. “I want us to be one of the go-to places in the UK for good design, quality design but with purpose.”

He added: “We really want to grow. We’ve just taken this nearly 300 year old building, opposite the train station in Sheffield. We’ve got room to grow in here and it’s the same in Japan as well.

“We’ve invested in larger offices where we have got multiple teams. We want to have a bigger impact and to demonstrate through that that you can be a commercial business but operate in a way that is purpose driven.”

Mr Pawlik says the business practices what it preaches “by looking after not just our clients but also our staff”.

Changing face of communications

One of the biggest challenges for Mantra Media since its formation in 2015 has been convincing businesses of the importance of adopting new technology and new ways of communicating.

Johnny Pawlik said: The UK, as far as tech is concerned, seems to be quite behind when it comes to general public education.”

However, the pandemic has seen many businesses review their digital estates, he added.

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James Mitchinson