Jim McCann, founder/executive chairman at 1-800-Flowers, took on this topic at the 2018 Techonomy NYC conference – and argued that crafting communications around sadder, more poignant and hard-to-discuss feelings is challenging.
“An important area for us, as a floral-and-gift company, is sympathy. How do you advertise in terms of sympathy? It's very difficult,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: 1-800-Flowers’ emotional marketing driver: Sympathy.)
But given its mission involves “helping our customers express themselves and connect to the important people in their lives,” the organization is tackling this problem head on, McCann explained.
At the heart of its efforts is a partnership with Westwood One, a unit of Cumulus Media that runs 8,000 radio stations and reaches 245 million listeners nationwide.
The most visible result of this tie-up is “Celebrating a Life,” an initiative launched in late 2017. It taps the power of radio and digital media to kick-start discussions on multiple subjects related to sympathy and grief.
Some of the points of attention include how to utilize platforms like Facebook when expressing condolences, handling loss in the workplace, and heeding proper cultural considerations when paying respects.
Josh Tesh’s “Intelligence for Your Life” and Lia Knight’s “The Lia Show”, two syndicated offerings in Westwood One’s portfolio, are the anchors for the initiative.
Alongside expert interviews and “branded-content vignettes”, the views of listeners are vital to steering the conversation. And a digital destination on 1-800-Flowers’ website offers supporting materials, and serves as a forum for discussion.
“What we decided to do is [take] more of an editorial bent … [and] go out and try and stimulate conversation around a very difficult subject area – never once saying, ‘Hey, buy from us’ or, ‘We have better prices’, but to try and be at the center of a conversation where we bring in experts and we create conversation,” McCann said.
“It’s having a big impact on our relationship with customers.”
Sourced from WARC