Posted November 19th, 2015

Spreading the Love.

A kind gesture, a random act of kindness, a good deed. All are defined as; a selfless act performed by someone who wants to help or cheer up another person.

In 2015 it’s become something of a marketing trend, and is a concept now used by many. It’s changing the way people see and interact with brands, and it’s all about spreading the love…

We recently attended The Drum’s Plan It Day (think Challenge Annika meets the Apprentice!) where marketing professionals from all disciplines came together to work on live briefs given by brands on the day, to then pitch back after just 4 hours. Working on the team for The Metro Newspaper, we were asked to look into creating a campaign that brought the small section of the paper called the Good Deed Feed – where people share a good deed that’s happened to them from the day before – to the masses, not just its readers. It’s the most popular section of their paper, readers love reading it and a survey showed a large percentage of commuters in the morning would turn to that page first on most mornings for an instant cheer up.

So why do people love a good deed? They say a picture speaks a thousand words, but it’s actions that speak louder than words. Doing a good deed creates a powerful short story that people across the world can understand, relate to, emotionally connect with and appreciate. Brands are focusing largely on customer experience, and consumers are more and more craving a ‘realness’ in the brands they use and engage with. So it’s no surprise that a marketing tactic of showing a realness, not just saying ‘stuff’ is being adopted by many brands. Just look at the 2015 John Lewis Christmas advert – the short story of Lily who becomes determined to get something to the man on the moon, to send him a message and show him that someone down here is thinking of him.

The Metro brief gave the opportunity to understand a brand’s need to connect with its audience in this way, and it’s because, in short – people like to hear and see good things.

So it’s no wonder that these popular ‘movements’ even have their own mark in our calendars, with Random Acts of Kindness Day occurring on 17th February 2016 and National Good Deed Day taking place on April 11th, 2016. There’s even a ‘Pay It Forward Day’ and soon to be a ‘World Kindness Day’!

Social media has made it more possible for brands to tap into this trend of course. It’s the perfect platform to show all of these short stories to a wider audience. As more people are now publicly and knowingly disclosing information about their daily lives, feelings and whereabouts, it’s never been easier for brands to listen and react to customers’ needs or desires. And through social media, as it happens in real-time, brands can engage with consumers right at their moment of need, making the trend of good deeds more relevant, and therefore better received.

Brands using social media as a tool to monitor and react to their customers can, and are, increasingly planning promotional activity around the concept of good deeds, using social platforms and experiential marketing techniques as the channels in which to execute it. After all, it’s the “acts” in ‘acts of kindness’ that are so important. Social and experiential have a natural relationship anyway, with constant social diarists, photo capturers and sharers – but why for this concept in particular? Because it’s the live environment which true experiential activity provides that delivers the true story consumers want – the opportunity to experience the buzz, see that surprise, witness the happiness, have a moment of response, feel the live emotions and real reactions.

To get it right however, it must be authentic and non-intrusive. Brands that overdo it will not get the genuine consumer response they are after. Acts of kindness should be done with the expectation that you will receive nothing in return.

There are some brands that have got the formula right and executed some well-known social experiential activities. One of the earliest examples was Interflora’s Twitter campaign, when it cheered up people who were complaining about having a bad day on social media by surprising them with a bunch of flowers. It’s proved particularly popular with airlines, including KLMVirgin Atlantic USA and Spanair, all creating their own campaigns to surprise travellers in airports with gifts. Coca-Cola launched their Happiness campaign with the Happiness-machine, and have now embarked on a campaign celebrating those who share positive power on social media and within their communities. Not to mention Asda, who this year started #cakemyday, where consumers and store staff are rewarded a cake when spotted doing a good deed in store.

And there is also The Metro Newspaper, who to amplify their Good Deed Feed have now launched a platform online in which people can share their good deeds through the #gooddeed on twitter. Divided by region through the hashtag, it’s building an online brand community that showcases kindness across the country (and will crown one of the regions the ‘kindest’ in the UK!). Nothing in return, just lots of lovely declarations and thanks for good deeds that are bringing a smile to the nation.

A crowd pleaser and a working formula – let’s hope more brands spread the love.