From Issa Rae and Taylor Swift to Vertical Farms and Disaster Insurance: Lessons From Some Favorite 2023 Client Consumer Campaigns

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In 2023, the battle for brands to reach consumers was fiercer than ever. On the heels of economic anxieties, pandemic resurgences, and low institutional trust, businesses had to get creative to win consumers' hearts, minds, and wallets.

To help our partners succeed in this environment, we engaged our team of consumer experts to develop creative campaigns with a B2C audience-first approach to raise brand awareness and build affinity. As the year ends, here’s a look back at a few of our favorite initiatives that meaningfully connected our clients with their consumers — and what we learned along the way.

Shara Seigel, Senior Director of Consumer Media Strategy, on Tapping into the “Taylor Swift Effect” 

There’s no doubt that 2023 was the year of Taylor Swift. With the singer dominating headlines and social conversations, we helped clients capitalize on this ‘era’ and other timely pop culture moments to generate buzz with audiences on bigger stages than ever.

When Taylor Swift announced her long-awaited world tour, we deployed newsjacking for Greenlight, a family finance app, to insert them into trending news cycles. With teens clamoring for tickets at sky-high prices, we turned the tour into a teachable moment for parents to talk with their kids about saving and budgeting. We quickly engaged our spokesperson Jennifer Seitz, Greenlight's Director of Education, to provide actionable tips for how teens can smartly save for tickets, merch, and transportation, and landed feature stories in both parenting and finance outlets like Scary Mommy and GOBankingRates.

Beyond Taylor Swift, celebrity and pop culture obsession (aka “stanning”) reached an all-time high this year, from Beyonce to Barbie and everything in between. This posed the question: is this level of super fandom a good or bad thing for our mental health? We engaged LifeStance Health to weigh in on the topic, with psychotherapist Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S, coining the concept of “Stanning Addiction” — a trend she was seeing especially among Gen Z patients. We pitched this term along with her advice on the pros/cons of celebrity worship and how to know if it's gone too far, driving coverage in Shondaland.

The 2024 TL;DR for brands is: Don’t just pay attention to pop culture -- put your own spin on it. Merely showing up to participate in these trending discussions is not enough. Brands need to have an authentic voice that offers their customers something new and moves the conversation forward to avoid getting lost in the noise.

Chanel Sedeno, Consumer Communications Director, on Revitalizing In-Person and Virtual Events 

This year saw continued resurgence of live events and companies leveraging the benefits of both in-person and virtual gatherings to create engaging experiences and interact with customers in different ways.

Plenty debuted the world’s most advanced indoor vertical farm in Compton, California, earlier this year, marking a significant milestone for both the company and the industry. To make a splash with this news, we knew we needed to show and tell Plenty’s innovation story to retailers and consumers alike — reinforcing how Plenty is leading the way in sustainable agtech and setting the standard for how sustainable food is grown and distributed.

We unveiled Plenty’s leafy green production farm with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and IRL launch event, inviting media, partners, local government, and other community members to join us for facility tours and product tastings. This drove over 50 media stories, including features in the BBC, the Washington Post and the Associated Press and resulted in an ongoing groundswell of global media interest in covering and visiting the farm that continues today. This event helped us demystify what vertical farming is for consumers, increasing their understanding about why greens produced like this can be better for them - and for the planet.

While physical food products like Plenty benefit from creating in-person moments, digital brands are inherently well-suited to engage consumers with clever, social-first activations. This year, we also helped Canva host a first-of-its-kind LinkedIn Live fireside chat with CMO Zach Kitschke and actress, writer, and producer Issa Rae. The conversation set out to inspire creatives with philosophies on marketing, leading teams and brands through fast-moving shifts of culture and trends, while also encouraging the adoption of Canva’s tools. Given the authentic brand synergy between Canva and Issa, and the timeliness of the chat on the heels of the Barbie movie’s marketing success, our LinkedIn Live stream shattered channel benchmarks and drove massive consumer engagement with 16K registrants, 8K attendees and over 30K views. 

The 2024 TL;DR for brands is: Both in-person and digital events can drum up significant brand awareness and excitement, as long as the experiences are authentic, memorable, and tell a relevant and compelling story. 

Lindsey Shumway, Senior Director, on Why Finding the Right B2B2C Narrative Always Matters

While pop culture and “softer” evergreen storytelling can excite consumers, we’re also in an important position to help solve their real-world pain points by leaning into “harder” conversations with expert guidance and client product solutions. 

This year, the insurance market was plagued by rising premiums nationwide, compounded by massive carriers pulling out of markets like California and Florida due to natural disasters. For homeowners across the country, it meant being stuck with the same insurance coverage for more money, or completely dropped from insurance coverage altogether. 

With client advocacy and access to insurance being a priority for our client Goosehead Insurance, we set out to educate the market on how their independent agent model and franchise experts could help ensure they had the right coverage for their needs. We asked Goosehead agents to provide their advice for how consumers in their local markets could navigate the difficult insurance landscape, educating existing and prospective clients while elevating Goosehead’s business model. 

By understanding the challenges Goosehead’s clients were up against and activating quickly on emerging weather and cost issues, the company was covered in top-tier national outlets like Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch and Money. To build stickiness with our audiences, we also pushed similar storylines across Goosehead’s social channels, resulting in a 250% organic audience growth and 18% organic traffic increase to company landing pages. 

The 2024 TL;DR for brands is: Brands need to keep consumer interests and issues top-of-mind — from the fun topics to the scarier ones. Also, remember to take advantage of social media to amplify your voice and make sure you’re maintaining resonance through multiple audience touchpoints. 

Looking Ahead

The winning brands this year were those who quickly capitalized on pop culture, created memorable experiences, and supported consumers with timely advice to their pressing problems. Although consumer needs are ever-changing, we see these principles continuing to apply in 2024 and beyond. Brands will need to stay agile to continue to earn consumer mind and market share. 

 

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