Navigating the Ethical Frontier
I'm genuinely honoured to bring you an exclusive interview with Pete Durant, a true luminary in the realm of ethical marketing and brand communication. At 360 Speakers, we value professionals who provoke thought and inspire change. Pete is a paradigm of this ethos.
Our conversation is an exploration into the mind of a strategist, ethicist, and storyteller who shifts perspectives and elevates industry standards. From his early days in reality TV to his current role as a beacon of ethical marketing, Pete's journey is a masterclass in adaptability and moral integrity.
Pete challenges not just what you think, but how you think. As you read on, prepare to have your views transformed and your horizons broadened.
Stay inspired. Stay curious.
“Adaptability, is no longer optional, especially for Start-Ups; it’s a survival trait”, Pete explains, emphasising the importance of adaptability as we settle into our conversation, “In that world, you have to pivot, adapt, and innovate consistently. It’s not just survival of the fittest but survival of the most adaptable”.
This statement, simple yet profound, captures the approach of this multi-award-winning creative and brand communicator who's played a key role in redefining the way in which brands and emotions connect in the digital realm.
Today, Pete stands at a juncture where technology, ethics, and marketing collide. His views have garnered industry-wide respect for their depth and ethical orientation. “Integrity is your true north” he states emphatically.
Even when diving into the murky waters of A.I and data manipulation, his ethical compass remains his guiding force. “It’s easy to be seduced by what you can do, but the real question is what you should do. There’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed, even if that line is constantly being redrawn by technological advances.”
Before making his mark in digital marketing and social media, Pete began his career working behind the scenes on the sets of some of Britain’s most famous Reality TV shows.
"I was involved in the production side of reality TV shows back in the mid-noughties," he reveals, a wry smile forming on his face. "That period was like the wild west of reality TV. They were throwing everything at the wall to see what would stick. Looking back, it was horrific. Some of the ethics—or lack of—were really something to witness. But there were no proven models to follow. And for a while, that was exciting. We were charting unknown territory.”
In the end, the experience became a turning point for Pete. “That time became a cautionary tale," he tells me. "Back then, there was a noticeable void in ethical considerations, something that now takes centre stage in my work.”
From here, Pete dives into the more nuanced facets of his career, fleshing out how he navigated the constantly evolving landscape of media and marketing, while eventually finding his true north at the intersection of marketing, ethics, and technology. "Anyone can execute a successful ad campaign, but what do you stand for?" he questions? “I now see technology as a tool, ethics as the rules of engagement, and marketing as the language we speak. You can't have one without the others." His voice gains texture as he recollects a campaign he pulled the plug on due to ethical concerns. "Money comes and goes, but your integrity is irreplaceable.” This creed could easily have served as a survival guide for navigating the waters of early social media, a frontier Pete knows well. “I was there at the start of social media. I was doing it before it became an industry; tweeting before people even know what a hashtag was. Imagine trying to explain the value of a 140-character message to seasoned marketers” he laughs. Those initial risks were career-defining and he got some side-eye, for sure, but he also gained the first-mover advantage, something invaluable in his industry. An industry that, according to Pete, is not just about moving products but "moving hearts." “I'm not simply in the business of marketing; I’m in the business of behaviour change. Building emotional ties underpins everything I do" he says, recounting a touching charity campaign he led that employed emotional storytelling. "We did a soft launch, just a video campaign, but the outpouring was massive. It reaffirmed my belief that when you tap into people's emotions authentically, the metrics follow.” Metrics are just one layer, though. At the heart of Pete's methodology lies another, fundamental concept: storytelling. "If you're not telling a story, you're just making noise," he states, walking me through a fascinating case study where storytelling not only reimagined a struggling brand but revitalised its entire workforce. "The brand's turnover increased yes. But the real win? Employees started identifying more with the brand. They became its ambassadors and powered growth through recommendation; that’s the power of a great story.” And that power transcends borders, Pete assures me. "It's one thing to have a message, it’s another to make it universally resonant. Human emotions are universal”. Pete's awareness doesn't just stem from his triumphs but from his trials. "Every award is a story in itself, a culmination of teamwork, vision, and sometimes, a lot of firefighting," he laughs, taking me behind the scenes of one of his most treasured awards. "So, what's next?" I ask. Pete gases into the distance with a touching smile. "What's next is more stories, more boundaries to push, and more lives to touch. My mantra is simple: 'Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.’” Pete’s adherence to unwavering values, extends beyond the personal to the organisational level. He sees the cultivation of an ethical culture as a hallmark of effective leadership. “It’s not just about having a code of ethics tucked away on your company website. It’s about creating an ecosystem where everyone—from the interns to the C-suite—feels empowered to make ethically sound decisions, even when no one is watching. Life is a constant lesson. Your business strategy, your ethical framework, your interpersonal skills—all of these are perpetually in beta testing. The trick is to keep iterating without ever losing sight of your core principles”. And with those final words, it's clear that Pete Durant is not just a marketer, or a storyteller, but a pioneer on a quest to make the world feel deeply, act ethically, and engage authentically.