“We are the heroes,” exclaimed Katie Meyler, CEO and Founder of More Than Me, an organization that uses education as a catalyst for transformative social change for girls in Liberia. Meyler explained that this revelation came to her as she was on the frontline helping provide support - both practical and emotional - to Ebola sufferers during the height of the crisis. It’s a realization that Meyler and other inspirational speakers at the inaugural WORLDZ event said everyone can apply to their own lives.
It’s generally unusual to be moved to tears at conferences, however at last week’s event put on by the PTTOW! (Plan To Take On The World!) organization held against a Baywatch background in Los Angeles, it happened on more than one occasion – to most of the 750 attendees.
While, at times, the rhetoric could be a little cheesy, the messages remained genuine - as did the energy and ambience of the summit. WORLDZ is about moving beyond surviving as an individual to thriving as a community through inspired action.
Here are the top takeaways from WORLDZ that can and should be applied to our everyday lives both at work and at home.
Partnerships That Propel Change
One collaboration celebrated at WORLDZ was the partnership between Discovery Communications, iHeart Radio and GoPro, who worked together to create the documentary on endangered-species “Racing Extinction”, which has been viewed by over four million people.
It was shared as an example of how an unexpected partnership can grow audiences and achieve marketing goals, while also creating impetus for social change. The partnership included an ongoing forum that creates awareness around animals close to extinction, as well as offers donation and educational resources.
Another example of partnership propelling change is a non-profit that works with almost a third of PTTOW! member organizations called Year-Up. It helps disadvantaged young adults gain valuable workplace skills, experience and support that empower them to reach their professional potential. The notion is that when you surround yourself with inspiring people and causes, your team will be moved to challenge their traditional thought process, consider fresh solutions and take immediate action.
When brands think beyond their pre-tested marketing efforts, identifying unique partnership opportunities can lead to transformative business solutions.
The Illusion of A Work/Life Balance
Work/life balance is something many people strive for, however Bert Jacobs, CEO & Co-Founder of Life is Good challenges that concept; he says it’s an oxymoron because your purpose should be apparent in all areas of your life. Jacobs believes that finding fulfillment that is true to your values in all your pursuits is the key to lasting success.
For brands, tapping into the core values of their consumers is critical for making a lasting impact on them. In order to build an effective organization, you need to understand the community it can serve. Digital creative, event activations, merchandise and other traditional marketing efforts are really just vehicles for emotional connection.
Authenticity in Advertising
When it comes to authenticity brands need to focus on action over words -saying you’re authentic doesn’t cut it. Your actions and approach to connection as a brand will determine how customers perceive you.
When your customers view your brand as authentic it leads to trust and, as Laurant, Potdevin CEO at Lululemon explained it, “trust builds magic.” Once you have their trust you have the freedom to be more creative and daring in your content and expression.
When it comes to marketing that drives an authentic connection, Proctor & Gamble’s Always #LikeAGirl campaign along with its next phase Unstoppable, comes to mind. The campaigns aimed to dispel the idea that doing anything “like a girl” is an insult, bringing awareness to the limitations girls face starting at a young age. Hearing kids share their experiences and shrinking self-esteem because of their gender was an effective way to highlight the issue that girls’ confidence drops significantly during puberty.
In this case the Always brand successfully aligned with a relevant social cause, moving audiences and creating awareness for both the issue as well as the brand across platforms and social media, receiving over 76 million views across 150 countries, according to The Gunn Report. This is a great example of how a campaign can see success in traditional measures, but remain relevant for years because of the authenticity behind their message.
Brands (And People) That Rise Above Differences to Create Connections
By 2044 minorities will account for the majority of the U.S. population. This population figure should be a long awaited wake up call to marketers to think about inclusivity and that the images brands portray need to reflect the diverse cultural landscape.
We are moving closer toward “polyculturalism,” a term that Valeria Piaggio, VP, Head of Multicultural Insights at The Futures Company defines as the notion that all cultures’ are interrelated; every person is a product of their attitude, values, cultural influences and lifestyle rather than being defined by genetics or skin color. 78% of millennials believe that more companies should take a stand on important social issues.
One brand standing up for inclusion is Christian Louboutin who created a line of nude shoes in different shades, reflecting the fact that the color “nude” differs by ethnicity. Another company called Tru-Colour Bandages is based on the same inclusive concept, offering bandages in different shades and promoting “diversity in healing.”
No matter what your background is we all share brands so marketers have a huge opportunity to bring people together and overcome differences.
Turning Lessons Into Actions
WORLDZ is the antithesis of a traditional conference where you quietly watch speaker after speaker; it promotes interaction, celebrates open emotion and truly inspires you to engage with the people around you - both in-the-moment and ideally long term via partnership.
At a time so wrought with cynicism, it’s refreshing to be part of something that serves as a reminder of all the amazing people and initiatives that exist. It also makes you think of what brands as well as individuals can do to inspire their consumers and colleagues to better the lives of those around them via relationships and partnerships.