SXSW: Shit, Sex and Vajingles – Secrets To Empathetic Marketing

SXSW: Shit, Sex and Vajingles – Secrets To Empathetic Marketing
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It was billed a session on empathetic content marketing, but all of the campaigns highlighted over night at SXSW herewith apply to all forms of persuasive communication just as well.

In a panel chaired by Ann Handley, chief content officer MarketingsProfs, Ben Mand, SVP brand marketing and innovation, Plum Organics, Hanneke Willenborg, CMO Seventh Generation and Dana Neujahr, SVP Something Massive shared their experience and insights from both the brand and agency perspectives.

While non of the work was brand new, the upside was its efficacy is proven and stands as a terrific reminder of what it takes to shift products, which is what marketing is all about at the end of the day.

Starting with the simple premise that people hate to be sold to, but love to buy things, baby food company Plum Organics’ Mand said empathy was hugely important as it helped in the consideration process. “Humour signals belonging,” he said, before adding that the world is so full of big worthy intentions people are too afraid to engage with it for fear of saying something wrong.

“Big worthy ideas need to be broken down with humour.”

His company’s approach with the assistance of Neujahr’s California-based agency,Something Massive came up with the “parenting unfiltered” campaign, which has given the brand tremendous brand uplift. By looking at the imperfect moments that makes up the life of parents, they have gained a place in their customer’s psyche. Mand also added, that “consumers can sniff out an ad in seconds”.

A key part of the strategy is the honesty they employ. Check out the “Do your partner” spot (which can’t be embedded, apologies) which encourages parents to have sex. The actor Katie Aselton, with her double entendre laden whit, ends the commercial confessing by having more babies, the parent’ of America will make the people paying her for this commercial very happy.

Check out the “do your partner” spot here.

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The dad spot is cute too, albeit a little too cheesy for Australian tastes we fear.

From Plum Organics use of simple truths told through humour, comes Hanneke Willenborg’s challenges with selling feminine hygiene products.

Willenborg starts off with the observation that the word vagina is still taboo. “Half of the people in the room have a vagina and menstruate, yet we can’t talk about it. This points to a bigger issue for society and how far we have to go,” she said.

The answer for her too, was humour, although excruciating in this instance. Check it out:

Also of interest was the observation Willenborg made in relation to being sure not to upset too many people. She said fiver years ago she would have taken the ploy that brands need to have an opinion and a position, but because everyone is so caught in their own echo chamber these days, she’s very careful to avoid giving people an excuse to be driven further apart.

“We don’t want to contribute to pushing people further apart, now more than ever, the world needs a little more humour and an excuse to laugh.”

Hear, hear.

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