July 26, 2011
Marketers send the message that brands are people too
“We’ll see more brands playing up the people and stories behind the products,” we wrote in listing Storied Products as one of our Things to Watch for 2011, and right now people and brand stories are all over marketing. J.Crew’s account of a trip to Italy to work with shoemakers and fabric specialists is a model of behind-the-scenes storytelling. And an array of campaigns puts workers in the spotlight, following the model of last year’s “Meet the Team” site and spots from Cathay Pacific and a Pizza Hut campaign that starred employees.
Now another pizza chain is spotlighting workers: Domino’s order-tracking tool lets people see “who’s responsible for making and delivering your order at every stage” and post feedback afterward; a commercial features two real workers discussing a new Times Square billboard that displays some of this feedback. Also in the food service sector, Red Lobster is playing up people working for the chain, such as an Alaska fisherman and a grill master (the YouTube channel includes initial spots and more video). A New York Times report on that effort also cites a Perdue Farms chicken campaign featuring employees such as a veterinarian. In Europe, Expedia’s “People Shaped Travel” is a campaign to “introduce the people behind the website in a more personal way,” as the brand says on YouTube; actors evoke the Expedia workplace, with cameos from real employees.
Humanizing and adding a feel of authenticity to these big brands are major drivers here. These will only get more important as consumers grow increasingly distrustful of big corporations and more nostalgic for a time when people knew their travel agents and mom-and-pop restaurant owners by name.