Let’s be honest: advertising has made clients billions of dollars by promising consumers happiness if they just buy the right products. You’ll be happier if your laundry is whiter. You’ll be happier if you wear these jeans. You’ll be happier if you drive this car. This idea is predicated on the products alone bringing happiness, but that’s a very narrow definition, especially in this day and age when brand experience reigns supreme.
I’m happy to report on some recent examples of brands actually delivering happiness, in some cases, as a total surprise. You can start by checking out Trendwatching’s latest post on Random Acts of Kindness, that discusses three drivers propelling the trend and gives plenty of juicy examples. My favorite? Spanish airline Spanair delivering personalized holiday gifts on the luggage carousel, each marked with passengers’ names, after a late Christmas Eve flight.
Next, check out Coca-Cola’s Happy Truck. The company rolled out their Open Happiness campaign last year, and now they’re taking it to the streets, literally giving away bottles of carbonated grins as well as soccer balls, surf boards, balloons, and other smile-inducing surprises from the back of a specially-built truck. It’s literally happiness to go and the joyous expressions of the recipients are genuine and heart-warming.
In this age when people publicly share their moods through social networks, Edge Shave Gel has turned to Twitter to fuel its anti-irritation campaign, monitoring Tweets with two full-time employees who have responded to frustrated Tweeters with everything from cereal to iPads, funny viral videos to e-cards. Follow @edgeshavezone and @soirritating to keep track of their story.
Search engine giant Yahoo! funds the How Good Grows campaign and has a website that tracks how random acts of kindness spread across social networks. More than 94,000 have shared their act of kindness so far. The company recently expanded the idea by giving away things itself – like buying groceries for some lucky, unsuspecting shoppers in a Georgia Publix in January, or paying for family portraits with Santa around the holidays. In addition, Yahoo! gave 50 bloggers $100 each to spread random acts of kindness, from buying someone’s latte to filling up someone else’s gas tank to buying socks for a homeless man.
In today’s dark times, when so much seems to be hard, wrong, and unsolvable, the world needs a little smile. A little happiness. A little random act of kindness. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. But it does need to be baked into your marketing strategies and tactics from the beginning, and the promise needs to be delivered in more than just products. Happiness is an experience, and never has the time been better for brands to truly make their customers smile with an unexpected gesture. Thanks for the marketing advice, Keith Partridge.