Where marketing meets empathy – Maria Van Buskirk

Nick Vale challenged Maxus Young Guns to review Cannes entries critically to uncover revealing trends; I found my favorite work where marketing met empathy.

Empathy is not something a brand can own or self-label, empathy must be proven. The brands who successfully do so ultimately rise to the top of consumer’s (and Cannes’ jurors) hearts and minds.

Nowadays, the way a brand behaves and acts has greater impact on people’s interest and involvement than any individual product or service they sell. This shift was especially noticeable in Cannes; entrants with a social cause, underlined by an intelligent idea, prevailed.

Boost Your Voice by Boost Mobile was a stellar demonstration of empathetic action. In a climate of voter in-equality, Boost Mobile converted U.S. storefronts into voting booths. This brilliant initiative enfranchised low-income communities who suffered from a lack of voting resources. What’s so magnificent about this piece is that Boost’s activation directly impacted Boost consumers. This level of understanding and empathy made Boost one of 2017’s boldest brands.

Other powerful pieces of work included Care Counts, Fearless Girl, and Refugee Nation. All which quickly became Cannes-favorites.

I especially enjoyed Whirlpool’s Care Counts CAMPAIGN. Similar to Boost, Whirlpool took action on a simple human truth: every day in America, thousands of children miss school because they don’t have clean clothes. As a brand that celebrates the value of everyday care, Whirlpool installed washers and dryers in schools across America to give at-risk students access to clean clothes. As a result, 93% of participating schools saw an increase in attendance.

By demonstrating empathy Whirlpool distinguished its brand from the competition through smarter storytelling, which was authentic, strategic, and emotional.

While these are aspirational examples, smarter storytelling can be accomplished on a daily basis by providing an experience which satisfies a consumer’s unique need. Levels of personalization have been around for years; as seen through demographic targeting, retargeting and the evolution of programmatic. Now, the opportunities are becoming ever more exciting as we begin to understand nuances of personality at scale based on historical choices. The application of these learnings, allow us to tell emotionally led stories to an audience that genuinely wants to engage, rather than plastering banner ads in front of ad-adverse consumers.