“Empathy” and “marketing” aren’t usually two words you would use in the same sentence, let alone together in a corporate buzzword. Yet, over the past couple of decades, it has become increasingly apparent that empathetic marketingworks. Real empathy-driven brand experiences focus on content that addresses customers’ needs and pain points, so they can relate with the brand on a humanistic level.
According to MarketsandMarkets, empathetic marketing is estimated to grow 40% annually to a US$36 billion market by 2021. With artificial intelligence already beginning to detect visual, semantic and sonic cues, it won’t be long before we will be able to test how well content resonates with customers, and measure users’ readiness to purchase in real time.
But for the time being, how do brands take customers from “considering to conversion”, by simply being more considerate? Join Wordsmith to see how the biggest brands in the business effectively win hearts and minds through empathetic content.
1. Proctor and Gamble (P&G)
Author of Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing, Douglas Van Praet, comments “The most startling truth is we don’t even think our way to logical solutions. We feel our way to reason. Emotions are the substrate, the base layer of neural circuitry underpinning even rational deliberation. Emotions don’t hinder decisions. They constitute the foundation on which they’re made!”
If this is true, putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and understanding their emotions could be the ticket to resonating with your audiences and building a solid brand relationship.
But it isn’t just simply tugging on the heart strings of consumers, Columbia University Professor John O’Shaughnessy notes in the book The Marketing Power of Emotion, “It’s about understanding your customers’ emotions to help you identify an emotional script that goes from the triggering event to the thought to the feeling to the action.” And this is exactly what Proctor & Gamble achieved through their “Thank You, Mom” Campaign created by Wieden + Kennedy Portland.
Released just in time for the opening of the 2012 Olympics, this emotive campaign encompassed print, social media and a touching TV advert entitled “Best Job”. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, the ad was filmed on four different continents, featuring local actors and real athletes across Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, Los Angeles and London. Focusing on the important role of motherhood, the advert showed real moms’ day-to-day routines raising young athletes. What makes this content piece stand out is its emotive storytelling.
Everyone can relate to motherhood, whether it’s through personal experience of raising a child, or being raised by our own mothers – and Proctor and Gamble cleverly used this shared feeling to resonate with target audiences, and in turn evoked a sense of empathy for the mothers in the advert. Viewers become invested from the get-go, watching these heartfelt stories of supportive moms who push their young athletes to go for gold, leaving them with the line "The hardest job in the world is the best job in the world", with a little help from P&G.There are no obvious signs of product placement or sales-oriented narrative, but instead the ever so subtle suggestion that P&G products help moms do their part so they can spend more time focusing on raising champions.
The 2012 “Thank you, Mom” Campaign, was rolled out after its initial success at the Vancouver games in 2010, with P&G even flying athlete’s mothers to the London Olympics. The result? “Thank, You, Mom” became the most successful campaign in P&G’s 182-year history, responsible for US$200 million in incremental sales in the US alone, and earning 33.6 billion media impressions and over 17 million views on YouTube.
2. Dove Real Beauty Sketches Campaign
To be successful in real conversions and customer loyalty, you need to guide customers and empower them to actively participate with your brand on their own accord.
This is what world-renowned personal care brand Dove achieved with their viral sensation “You’re More Beautiful Than You Think.” In the advert, Dove recruited seven women to take part in a social experiment, asking them to spend some time chatting to a bunch of people they had never met before. Afterwards, they were introduced to FBI Forensic Artist Gil Zamora, who drew composite sketches based on their own self-descriptions of how they saw themselves. The strangers were then brought in to describe the person who was just sketched, and the results were astounding.
Vice President and Creative Director at Ogilvy Brazil, Anselmo Ramos, one of the key creatives behind this ad comments, “Our job was to talk straight to women in a more intimate, personal way. According to statistics, only 4% of women feel good about themselves across the globe. We decided to do something that would move the other 96%.We tried to look for an idea that could actually prove they are wrong about their self-image. We had several ideas, but “Real Beauty Sketches” really stood out…most women cry when they watch it. But not only women; men, too, because they think about their mothers, sisters, and daughters.”
Dove encouraged a massive empathetic and touching response, encouraging people to believe that beauty could be as easy as seeing ourselves through a stranger's eyes. Dove set the bar pretty high for its “Real Beauty” Campaign and became a global viral phenomenon. Ramos claims, “We knew we had something good in our hands, but yes, we are a little surprised by how fast it went viral.”
CEO of the marketing agency siteflood.com Anthony Sarandrea notes that, “A company’s use of emotionally-triggering motifs in ads can greatly add to the viewers evaluation of the advertisement. When used properly, emotion is a great shortcut to virality.”By incorporating a deeper emotional layer to attract audiences, Dove received more than 50 million views within 12 days of the ad’s release, with over 40,000 shares on Facebook. It became so popular that in 2013 it broke records to become the most viral video of all time with over 144 million views. What initially began as a campaign for the US, Canada, Brazil and Australia has now rolled out to over 110 different countries in 25 different languages. With over 4 billion blogger media impressions Dove was also awarded the “Lion of St. Mark”, an honour given at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for outstanding contributions to the creative community. All that… without showcasing any of its products!
3. Apple “The Archives”
Nobel-prize winning behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman claims that focusing on the benefits helps your argument more so than explaining the negative costs of not doing something. This is something marketers can use to their advantage when considering their calls to action. Instead of promoting the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), they should be focusing on how their brands can make customers’ lives better.
And this is exactly what Apple achieved by giving the greatest gift of all – memories. “The Archives” marked a significant shift away from the company’s clean, utilitarian spots to more emotive work appealing to our empathetic sides. Marking 10 years since the iPhone was first released, the fabled spot follows an elderly archivist through an historic old building stacked with film reels that seem untouched by time. He curates, frames and presses these memories into a family video called “Together”, highlighting a great benefit of the Apple brand.
It’s time to take a hard look at how we as content marketers earn our keep. Content marketers now need to advocate on behalf of customers, to breed empathy that will positively influence communities and reach beyond the traditional role of marketing. Each micro-moment on the path to conversion is important, and if we take a deeper look into customers’ pain points, we can create content that not only addresses and serves their needs, but also resonates with them. It all starts by tapping into empathy.