Technology is changing the way we interact, enjoy content and consume goods and services. Marketers and brands are using technology to highlight user experience by connecting brand values to new, exciting emotions.
When taking a step back and examining how we can use new technology from a communication lens, innovative ways to start interesting conversations come to mind. The possibilities to shift perceptions are endless and will allow us to bridge gaps between various groups of people.
And those gaps do exist. In the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, we can see that the average gap in trust in institutions between the elites and the mass population has grown to 12 points (across the developed and undeveloped world) and in the U.S., the gap is now 19 percent.
A creative use of technology could include the growing group of people who feel they are being left out. But is it really up to brands to take that form of responsibility? Yes, the people seem to think so. And since the people consist of the employees, the consumers, the vendors and everyone else in the brand universe, we should probably listen to them. A decisive 80 percent of the general public expect that businesses could both increase profit and conditions in the communities in which they operate.
Brands have a great opportunity to matter but in order for that to happen we need to start using tech to include, instead of only to intrigue.
For our client Tele2, who strives to break norms through technology, we challenged the elitism in the fashion industry. We persuaded a few Swedish celebrities to give up their front row seats at the show and constructed robots who attended in their place, with one robot equipped with a virtual reality (VR) camera. We produced a teaser film and handed out 1,000 designer branded cardboard VR sets to anyone who wanted to experience a front row seat during Stockholm Fashion Week. This initiative received extensive brand building publicity in Sweden and beyond, and started an important conversation on the inclusion of tech, instead of merely on how tech could improve fashion.
We have also used technology to engage those who are not often present and communicate a brand’s values. We highlighted the digital divide in our connected society by following 82-year-old actress, Kerstin Wolgers’, very first steps online. For the Dove Blind Beauty campaign, we asked individuals who are blind to share their perspective on beauty. We constructed the Twitter Dress to bring the voices of young people alive during the largest political convent in Sweden by tweeting on our client’s dress in real time. We were also able to help direct the light towards all of the refugee children in Sweden and give them a voice in the Escape ends here campaign.
For me personally, this is where the concept of communications marketing strikes a very important chord. Having a PR mindset on important cultural and societal subjects, and placing our client’s brands in these contexts is not only effective from a communication standpoint. It makes a difference and it’s worth marketing.
If I can wish anything for 2016 it would be that emerging technology is used as a way to include and inspire – to narrow the growing gaps. Because, after all, the competition in coming up with cunning ad stunts is fierce, and in the end more like fireworks: they are beautiful to watch, but after you have seen it, you wouldn’t be able to separate one from another.
Mattias Ronge is CEO and chief strategy officer of Edelman Deportivo.