News & Views

Opinion / Once More With Feeling

by Contagious Contributor

Justin Gibbons, creative director at Arena Media, believes in marketing with a human touch

We are clearly in a 'rise of the machines' era, I get that. Machines now do impossible things for us, both personally and professionally. What I'm interested in though is the flipside to this, the rise of the human touch. In communications I see a growing trend around communications that feel, an oeuvre of empathetic marketing that is in tune with people's psychology.

Dove is a classic example. Here's a brand with a big idea, 'real women', and a history of bold, challenging executions. This was the first beauty brand to feature women who weren't models and to champion bumps and lumps while everybody else was busy airbrushing. The idea grew into a campaign for self-esteem, especially amongst teenage girls. The ad campaign did what ad campaigns do, and told them all about it. The 'feeling' bit was the Facebook bit. In place of the ads for slimming pills, diet solutions and fake tan that populate the pages of teenage girls, Dove outbid every ad placement and replaced it with a self-esteem building message. Smart certainly, empathetic and in tune with emotions, that's the trend.

Coca-Cola has built a campaign around 'Acts of Kindness'. The debut was a seriously compelling montage of CCTV footage which captured real world situations involving people helping each other; cue dropped purses returned, food offered to the homeless, even a broken down car being pushed off a railway line! The campaign extended in an interesting way in Argentina, where Coke built a double-height vending machine. The money could only be put in with the help of a friend to lift you up. The reward, two for the price of one. What a feeling.

Domino's in the UK used social media in a unique way to harness the power of the crowd. Each lunchtime, via the Domino's app, people could tweet to lower the price of the lunchtime deal. The more people tweeted #letsdolunch, the lower the price of the pizza. Twitter is the ultimate fleeting experience, 140 characters and you're done. This added feeling, the feeling of others and being part of something.

I think communications that feel is a trend. While virtual and technological connections are here to stay, we like to be reminded of the human condition in the real world - friendship, feelings, empathy and self-esteem. They've only been around for millions of years and I reckon they are here to stay.

Justin Gibbons is creative director at Arena Media