As part of our series dedicated to celebrating good work and inspiring a bit more generosity, Mark Easterbrook, executive creative director at Goodfolk, plumps for Vodafone's Mother's Day tear-jerker at a Warriors game.
A prodigal son goes out into the world. He walks through dangers unknown. He returns, wiser, to his mother’s arms. You could hardly get a more simple and universal piece of storytelling if you tried. And a lot of marketers, with targets to meet, objectives to tick off, and product managers breathing down their necks, might shy away from that simplicity. Equally, a lot of creatives would feel the need to embellish and complicate the story, to make it somehow cleverer.
So hats off to Vodafone, True and Copper for the beautiful simplicity of the stunt they pulled off at a Vodafone Warriors home game in May, then shared online with their social media audience. It’s a simple story told well: bringing home a travelling son to surprise his mum for Mothers Day. And doing it in front of the cameras, and a live crowd of thousands. While I can’t know exactly how it played out at the game, the video of the experience suggests it was one of those moments that everyone involved will remember for a long, long time.
Vodafone’s stunt feels like the kind of experience many brands and marketers and agencies talk long and hard about creating, but then fail to deliver. Hell, I’ll put my hand up here and say I’ve been guilty of it before. We talk about surprising and delighting people, we go on about creating sharable content, and we say we want ‘irrational affection’ for our brands. But do we actually pull off the subtle alchemy all those things require? Not very often.
Some people will point out that the number of likes and shares aren’t massive numbers. But scroll through the the numerous comments on the video, and you can’t deny that there’s been some real magic created for quite a few people. And surely that’s better than something vaguely interesting going out to tens of thousands?
Going back to my original point, this stunt works because of the simplicity of the story. It’s so easy to share: “Vodafone pulled a lady out of the crowds at the Warriors to open a giant Mother’s Day present – and it was her son! They’d flown him home from Nicaragua!” That kind of easy to tell story, which anyone who’s ever had a mother can emotionally connect with and pass on with feeling, is the kind of word of mouth we’re all looking for. Well played.
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