Purpose, it’s everywhere (especially Cannes). You can’t move these days without coming across another purpose-inspired campaign. Unilever has been beating the drum for sustainable living for years. P&G has been advocating for gender equality through campaigns such as #LikeAGirl (disclaimer: I work for P&G). And of course there’s Nike, which was Dreaming Crazy over the past 12 months.

While purpose is all the rage in most of the world, I’m struggling to understand what local brands stand for. What’s their big idea, who are they supporting? How about you? Can you name three regional brands which are advocating for a cause, or a group? Nope, I can’t either.

There’s an irony here. The Middle East isn’t lacking for issues that the public cares about. We’re riven by conflict, and a growing refugee crisis. There’s hunger and disease. And let’s not forget environmental causes (the Gulf produces approximately a quarter of the world’s oil supplies). And then there’s gender discrimination.

Given the issues, it’s probably not a surprise that governments are promoting ways and means for firms to give back to society. Just look at the UAE, which for the past four years has promoted annually a specific cause (there’s been a Year of Reading, a Year of Giving, the Year of Zayed, and now the Year of Tolerance).

Brand purpose isn’t new, but it is an incredibly powerful way to engage with consumers. Brand purpose is also becoming omnipresent in markets such as the US and Europe. The reason is simple. According to research by Kantar Consulting, brands that are driven by a purpose grow twice as fast as other brands – and they also connect better with today’s consumers. Consumers want to do business with brands that have an authentic purpose, and that’s driving growth.

Purpose-driven brands are changing both marketing and society for the better. These brands set the stage for positive change, they spark debate, and they make us emotional enough to truly love a brand. A purpose also inspires marketers to look beyond profit and create something that’ll make a difference to people’s lives. Who wouldn’t have wanted to have worked on Nike’s Dream With Us, about ending gender inequality in sports, or Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty?

Given what I’ve seen in Cannes, we’ve probably reached peak purpose; we may even be seeing what Unilever’s CEO has called ‘woke-washing’, work which promises to change the world but which is insincere. That may be the case in much of the world, but I don’t even think we’ve gotten started when it comes to purpose and most of the Middle Eastern brands I know. If anyone does know when our region’s brands will have a purpose, can they speak up now? Or at least get the ball rolling? Our societies need brands to be about more than just profit.