Joy: How Brands are Spreading a Little Love and Happiness, and What This Surprise and Delight Tells Us about the State We’re In

the always amazing media update from James, Sisse and the gang brought with it this week a couple of treats which kinda got me thinking … the first is an effort, above, from Virgin Atlantic who transformed a Manhattan park bench into a Virgin flying experience, complete with champagne, food and real life movies.

the other was an effort, below, from Molson, who built fridges full of beer that could only be unlocked by someone with a Canadian passport, much to the delight and joy of the crowds that had gathered for the unlocking.

these both share a fair bit of DNA. they both are great experiential efforts designed not really to be experiential – but rather content; content designed to be enjoyed, shared and of course land a comms message in the process. and they both rely on the participation of innocent strangers – collateral vantage if you will – to bring realness and credibility to the situation. they’re pretty much givens, but there’s something else they both have in common … something deeper and I think more significant.

but this week our own Mimi, not one to miss a sweet treat, dropped us a note that the Magnum Pleasure store will be opening in Sydney. hurrah. this is off the back of Cadbury’s Joyville effort locally …

so what’s going on? well I think we’re seeing a definite increase in the amount of random acts of kindness from brands. we’re witnessing nothing short of a surge in desire and investment into spreading a little love and happiness. the evidence of the brand-inspired Joy is all around. like love, and so the feeling grows. sorry.

now you could argue that this isn’t really anything new; that the last few years (if not decades) are riven with examples of marketing sharing a little love and happiness … be it Coke’s vending machines (or even back to teach the world to sing) or the playful inventiveness of Skittles or T-Mobile from Liverpool Street to Heathrow or insert-your-example-here … you could argue that brands have always been in the business of creating Joy. however I think this is distinct for two reasons:

one, these acts aren’t surprising and delighting the passive massive through broadcast, but rather the more tangible and meaningful individuals on the street. these acts are very deliberately public – that strikes me as significant; the acts are witnessed, at that witness makes them realer, more credible, more meaningful and more potent. and I think this is important.

the other reason is that I think it says something about the state we’re in … I read ages ago (and I honestly can’t remember where) that popular culture generates content opposite to the prevailing mood of the times. Sorkin created Bartlett when America needed him, then post-Obama positivism was countered by darker, less sure-footed heroes like Nicholas Brody. I’m wondering if the same can be said for marketing?

from the collapse of states to environmental insecurity, via PRISM, to economic uncertainty and the realignment from west to eastern dominance … we’re in pretty shaky times – you could say that winter is coming.

perhaps our collective unleashing of marketing Joy is the brand equivalent of the contemporary prevalence of the superhero: shear joy, positive unabashed certainty at a time when our world no longer gives us these for granted.

I’ll leave you with one last little bit of joy … a video from Google celebrating how we have and continue to build the web together. it’s a genuine joy … so, well, … enjoy.

featured image via adweek

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