Brands should take heed of the enduring power of kindness

AT&T: responded to Hurricane Sandy crisis
AT&T: responded to Hurricane Sandy crisis

It shouldn't take a natural disaster on the scale of a hurricane for brands to recognise that kindness, from corporations as well as individuals, really does matter to consumers, writes Nicola Kemp.

At the moment 47,000 runners had been due to begin the New York City Marathon on Sunday 4 November, a very different challenge began. Many of the would-be runners, faced with a cancelled race in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, set aside their disappointment to volunteer to help clear debris from damaged neighbourhoods, many of them dressed in their brightly coloured running kits.

It was just one of a plethora of acts of kindness - from corporations and citizens alike - offering a helping hand in the face of devastation. Many turned to social media to drive their relief efforts.

Race 2 Recover NYC, a pop-up website and Twitter feed, moved to reallocate the hotel rooms reserved by marathon entrants but subsequently unused. The site accepted reservation information for these rooms and matched them to those who were displaced, or without heat or power.

Across the web and the country, other acts of kindness were taking place; from individuals going door-to-door with supplies in affected areas, to brands such as Walt Disney, Coca-Cola and Pernod Ricard making substantial donations to the relief effort.

AT&T was among the brands to have provided a timely example of what to do in a crisis. The telecoms company, which is waiving late-payment charges and has created an open network with rival T-Mobile to give consumers in the affected areas the best possible coverage, is putting its customers first.

At a time when many brands stand accused of using the recession as an excuse for short-changing consumers and cutting corners, the New York Marathon runners provide a compelling case for the enduring power of kindness.

For many ordinary people, running a marathon is a life-changing experience: it requires phenomenal commitment to training and is a true endurance challenge. For those runners who ultimately made the journey to New York for different reasons, their achievement, while far-removed from that they had been working toward, will have been no less life-changing.

Nicola Kemp is Marketing's head of features. Follow her on Twitter: @nickykc

THE UPSHOT

Why brands should know about embracing kindness

  • Transparency is the new trust

Brands can no longer afford not to do the right thing. With their actions under the microscope to an unprecedented degree, they can not be seen to push any perceived slight or slip-up under the carpet.

  • Generosity is everything

The irony is that in the recession brands squeezing their profit margins by shaving services and cutting corners are alienating consumers. Corporate kindness has never been more important, and scale isn't everything; Whole Foods Market's Tribeca store in New York gave away food, providing unexpected, much-needed relief to neighbours.

  • Embracing a sense of purpose

While, in the endless quest for ROI, it is tempting for marketers to become more insular, it is vital to focus on the big picture. Brands that go above and beyond to provide a service to consumers at a difficult time will be rewarded in the long run.

  • Every little helps

You may not recall which supermarket's strapline it is (Tesco), but Superstorm Sandy served to underline the power of small, but no less important, acts of kindness.

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Oasis #springasmile digital campaign gets people doing good deeds
Coca-Cola: 'Don't approach bloggers with a fait accompli'
Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson: 'It is so important not to stereotype mothers'
McDonald's gives Ronald a new look ahead of global 'Fun times' social media push
In pictures: BrewDog opens first craft beer shop BottleDog for 'beer aficionados'
Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers