Putting the Heart into Hard Times

Highly inappropriate for this cold weather, but Jerry Greenfield, the co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, once said “It’s good to stand for something, to believe in something, and base your business on values.”

It’s pretty clear that many large businesses have followed this train of thought, particularly over the last few years. Consumers are much more discerning these days and with a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips, they are well-positioned to make the right choices.

This goes way beyond the product itself. We now want to buy from companies that are aligned with our own beliefs, our own morals, and ethics, as well as mirroring our aspirations. 

It is no longer enough to just push out ads that showcase shiny new products. Companies absolutely need to project a message that reaches the hearts and minds of their target audience. 

At this time of year, the masters are clearly John Lewis. They have a special place in the festive season where they pretty much cut the ribbon and officially open Christmas when their new advert drops each year. I have to say, this year was the finest yet. I won’t spoil it for you if you’ve not already seen it, but it’s heart-wrenchingly beautiful. 

John Lewis adverts are intrinsically linked with Christmas and always come with an important message to spare a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves at what can be a difficult time of year. Not once do they mention products. They don’t need to. 

But just like puppies, this is not just for Christmas.  

As a society, we are becoming increasingly fragmented under the illusion of connectivity, that social media creates. My heart breaks when I read about the epidemic of loneliness in young people, or how unsupported and scared the elderly and vulnerable feel during this cost-of-living crisis. Make no mistake, these are extremely hard times for a LOT of people out there. 

The large brands that pepper our cultural landscape have, by and large, really stepped up to their responsibilities in this area – getting involved in local causes, joining national movements, and supporting causes that affect so many of us.  

One of my main goals when setting up this company was to create technology that enabled more meaningful connections for the people that needed it most. But I knew, even back then, that the platform to achieve this, was not going to be social media. We had to reach people in specific situations, at specific times, to really ensure we were hitting the target. 

Now, we’ve always championed local businesses and have always strived to bring communities together in real ways. But we also know and appreciate the immense power that larger brands have when it comes to communicating with their respective audiences. 

For example, Tesco has an enormously successful Clubcard app that helps thousands of customers save money off groceries. Their slogan “Every Little Helps” resonates with their customers, especially at the moment.  

Imagine the impact of serving customers region-specific content that informed them of a charitable cause, or a resource of support that they can access if they are struggling with something in their lives, being delivered as they entered or left the vicinity of each supermarket.  

This would be a much more effective fundraising tool for charity partners if all a customer had to do was agree to round up their bill to the next pound, all done through the app. In an increasingly cashless world, this is vital to ensuring our beloved charities don’t get left behind. 

I’m so proud of the work we do and the work we’re helping others do. Every day feels like a blessing but I, like everyone else, struggle from time to time. I find my peace by walking my lovely dog, Marley and talking of puppies, our new member of the family, four month old Bear. We walk across the golf course and visit the high street so they can have a good old nosey around, taking in the sights and smells that set their tails wagging. In this way, I count myself very lucky to have an outlet that brings me relief when I need it. But not everyone is this fortunate. 

In 2023 we will be working with some very well-known high street brands, helping them to deliver messages of support to their customers, when and where they need it most. Geofencing is the key marketing tool for the coming 12 months and we are at the forefront of this movement. We’re doing away with hit-and-hope advertising that relies on an increasingly unreliable set of algorithms. We are giving national brands, a local feel. This is about real relationships, real people, and real brand values that we can all believe in. 

Brand values are an increasingly important element of our most well-known and loved brands. It’s a multi-million-pound concern, in fact. 

But our collective need to feel really and truly seen, heard, and supported? 

Well, to paraphrase Mastercard…that’s priceless.