Ok. SO life, as we know it, has changed. And it might be changed for good, even after the vaccine. People – like you and me – have been fundamentally changed having lived through this once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.
Times of crisis are a huge bonding experience. Whether wars, loss, or plagues and pandemics, crisis bands humankind (and also bring out our whiniest side, but that’s a story for over drinks).
Some of that thinking is explained eloquently in this 10-minute session with Simon Sinek in which he explains the needs for ‘infinite game‘ in crisis times like this 👇
If you have an hour, listen to this awesome mash-up – Brene Brown and Simon Sinek (it’s like the Supreme collab drop of the mindset mastery world)
There’s a good chance we’re all functioning day-to-day while also in a state of shock.
And there will be a mental health reckoning as Covid-19 passes – heck, it’s already happening, people are stressed out and exhausted. Covid-19 aside, this past year also saw people in the streets around the world protesting racial inequality. And, well, politically it’s been a bit of a sh*tshow down south, and we haven’t fared much better here in Canada.
As marketers, we have to accept that the customers we were marketing to back in December of 2019 are not the same. Routines and rituals have changed. New ones have been formed. The 35-year-old suburban mom or 45-year-old inner-city single guy? Trust us. They probably don’t care much anymore about what they were caring about a year ago. And they CERTAINLY won’t be responsive to the same old marketing efforts.
Walk a Mile in their Shoes
Consumers today are more emotionally intelligent – even emotionally needy – than ever before. The shift to ‘digital living’ has happened so fast that you could estimate what, at standard trend-rates in normal times, would have taken ten years to evolve has instead taken ten months.
Yo, remember, many people are not designed for this kind of rapid evolution!
Those of us who spend the majority of our lives online forget that the majority of the world out there, well, doesn’t! Except they do now. It’s not a huge surprise to consider that people are raw and scratchy these days, and might not take kindly to your “Ooops, you didn’t read the room, did you?” attempts at humour, or worse, your sudden “woke’ness” that’s kinda-sorta wrapped in poor efforts at self-deprecation and nervous-laughter-apologies.
Today’s marketing is about relationships.
And here lies my link to the entertainment quotient. In relationships, especially when times are hard, there is a need for levity.
But remember!Very-important-lesson-number-6-in-entertaining-with-your-content: your humour needs to be a lot more evolved than stupid fr@t-boy jokes.
The need for lightness and humourous relief in a hard year brought with it a spate of brands that decided to bring more laughter into their brand. Many, many, many of them got it right MOST of the time. For this lesson, let’s turn our attention specifically to a brand that got it wrong.
If you missed this particular shenanigan in which another “big behemoth brand royally scr3wed up,” allow us to lay it out for you.
Kraft (specifically KD Mac and Cheese) ruffled some feathers on National Noodle Day, when they promoted a KD giveaway!
Yummy, creamy, mac and cheese goodness.Did we mention FREE???All good, right? Wrong. The hiccup? Their tagline: Send NOODS. Get it?? Send noods. Noods. Noodles. Wordplay and all that!
Pretty funny right? Erm, no. 😬😬😬
Moms – the KD brand-buying moms – were furious at the wink wink, nudge nudge of “send noods.”Why was it particularly unfunny to the target?
Hint: it’s NOT the youngsters who EAT the stuff. It’s the Moms who BUY the stuff!
Bear in mind many parents are navigating the vast amount of time their kids spend online in the pandemic with some trepidation. Cyber stalking, safety, bullying… those are the monsters under their bed. The idea of ‘sending noods’ is just too effing far! Stressed out, worried moms, already dealing with their kids lives being disrupted did not need that cued into their thinking by the noodle brand who forgot for a minute who their audience is.
The Moms were PISSED!
Want to try edgy humour? Comment first; before you author as a brand. Start perhaps by commenting on current events or hop on the latest trend? You have to know your audience to decide where to start and what they might funny, obvs.
Ok, let’s flip-side the above example:What are brands to do, how can they reach a “higher consciousness” when they have tried some entertainment in their content, and realize they’ve “Ooops’ed”! And 50% of their customer base has taken to the internet to put them on trial?
It’s hard not to care (and be overwhelmed and defensive) about who’s pissed off at you. But here’s how you cope.
✅ You dig into your stores of empathy and your emotional intelligence, and you walk a mile in their shoes.
🛑 You don’t get defensive. Whatever you do DO NOT get defensive. Instead,
1. own up to your mistake,
2. correct (overcorrect, really),
3. and communicate how you’ve fixed it
And the only way you’ll know what to do to make those three things happen is to stay true to your brand values.
If you’re a brand that uses edgy humour regularly but went a bit too far with this one image or meme, just own it. Don’t change who you are. But bring that empathy and emotional intelligence forward, and let that guide your decision.
Here’s a case in point that might prove relevant for smaller brands and startups.
We at c+p digital use humour – a lot. Often inappropriate, sometimes juvenile, sometimes dark humour that causes many of the people in our target audience to GET exactly what we mean.
One example was when we set out to articulate some of our thoughts around the need to make content addictive. The thinking is in this blog post 👉 using the analogy of “little bumps of blow” for bite-sized bits of micro-content! The idea was that you need little hooks – and a lot of them – for demand generation. Constant, consistent content that people crave. And how that leads to micro-conversions.
But we checked ourselves when Covid-19 hit and we pulled back on that metaphor. It just felt wrong to be touting cok3 metapho when so many of our clients and partners were having their business life rocked in a not-great way. It felt a bit too close to a crisis to use addiction as a hook. So we paused it; we didn’t take it off. We just didn’t think that’s the angle that needed mass pushing given the timing.
Gut check how your customers are feeling.What are they valuing now?Has it changed?
Once you’re clued into the people, it gets way easier to make them laugh. And steer clear of humour that is unfunny to your audience.