By Marie Morton
I went to a festival last month. Of course, it’s 2020 and we’re not really ‘going’ anywhere, so it wasn’t your typical kind of festival. There were no human pyramids, mudslides or queuing to charge your phone. None of that. No, this festival was MADfest. It was virtual. And I attended from my dining table. On the plus side, the toilet was clean, I had a great view of everything, and my phone battery was on 100% the whole time.
An array of impressive companies were speaking, on subjects ranging from the role of augmented reality to the growth of influencer marketing, brand strategy in times of disruption and the psychology of attention. While the intimidating list of job titles attending included lots of CEO’s, Strategy Directors, Chief Problem Solvers and Futurists. So, I ditched my hoodie in favour of a ‘power blouse’ and decided to raise my game!
The theme of MADfest was ‘Emerge Stronger.’ It focused on the impact of 2020 on our industry and the implications it will have for the future. In particular, the importance of empathy and authenticity in these ‘unprecedented’ times came through with (Christmas) bells on. Highlights included:
Not on the High Street, who shared how for them, the ‘e’ in ‘e-commerce’ stands for emotion, because people remember how you make them feel. How, building a relationship with the customer is vital and that a friendly and empathetic TOV helps with this, as does lifestyle imagery that their customers can connect with.
TSB who highlighted how they used trust and empathy to understand how their customers were feeling and what they wanted and needed from them. How through social listening, they answered the questions people were asking, and delivered a drumbeat of helpful and empathetic messages that really mattered.
And KFC who emphasised the need for nimble empathy with their campaign #RateMyKFC. Their quick response to changing times, acknowledged that people were trying to replicate the KFC experience at home, and displayed immense empathy, context and relevance. Culturally astute and of its time, it also promoted the sense of KFC community. And the fact that, when it was safe to do so, KFC would quite literally step up to the plate again.
It got me thinking about how empathy has always been at the heart of everything we do in employer, education and youth marketing at SMRS. After all, the better you are at understanding your audience and walking a mile in their shoes, the more easily your messages and brand will connect and resonate with them. So, for us, using empathy, with empathy, has always been vital.
It also made me realise that we’re all really good at showing empathy to each other. How, despite being more apart than usual this year, we’ve managed to maintain a spirit of togetherness and look after each other the best we can. Which is pretty special.
So, here’s to an empathetic 2021. A year where we will all Emerge Stronger and I hope to never feel intimidated by a Chief Billy Big B*lls ever again!