Agencies Agency Leadership Parenting

The great perspective shake-up: what parenthood teaches us about brand experiences

By Rachel Russell | Senior Strategist

George P. Johnson

|

The Drum Network article

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July 7, 2023 | 7 min read

Rachel Russell and Sophie Taylor of experiential marketing agency George P. Johnson dive into the industry perspectives they’ve gained since becoming parents.

Two adults holding hands with a central child

What can parents in the marketing industry apply from their home lives at work? / Alberto Casetta via Unsplash

Parenthood is a shapeshifting journey; an odyssey no chronicler can do justice. But one thing we know for sure is that parenting can frame and cement a remarkable number of fresh perspectives. The number of things parents come to look at differently is vast: love; patience; equality; productivity; growth; sleep; holidays; salt; bubbles; train stations; cleanliness. Tears – both ours and our offspring’s.

But who’d have thought that raising kids could also refashion how we look at brand experiences? Here are three things we’ve learned about our discipline through our adventures and misadventures in parenting.

1. Connection is transformative

During the first months and years of parenthood, the universe as you know it is upended. Exhaustion and emotion coexist, and you’re left grappling with an overwhelming new role. It can be disorientating, isolating and unsettlingly monotonous. You crave human interaction with a new thirst. Whether you find this at a soft play area, in a knowing conversation with another blurry-eyed parent, on a bus with an empathetic stranger, or at a community coffee morning where you can offload completely unfiltered, one simple bloom of human connection can change your mindset for the whole week.

This desire plays out in brand experience contexts too. Whether at an industry conference, a networking evening, a brand showcase, or a C-level roundtable, audiences always want to connect; to feel seen and heard. It’s through authentic human interactions that we do this. Then we can start to build affinity, offer up value, and grow loyalty.

By placing genuine human connection at their core, brand experiences can transform perspectives, shift behaviors and build lasting relationships. But it has to start with that human connection, in a safe space, where people just get you. It’s this that makes experiential a particularly powerful marketing channel.

2. Can we get hands-on, please?

The humble push-scooter can be a parent’s most potent weapon – or a frustrating bugbear. Get it right and it will cut your time from A to B in half. Get it wrong and you’ll be lugging that thing around (along with a multitude of other paraphernalia) all day.

Our own tribulations with that unwieldy 2-wheeled contraption have reminded us of one important thing: that watching our children master the world around us is one of life’s greatest delights (and it can be pretty funny too).

Looking on as my 2-year-old mounted his box-fresh scooter, conquering balance and steering; dexterously navigating rough terrain and inclines with determination and glee, the power of hands-on learning took on a deeper significance. No amount of inane warnings from me (or sketchy demos from my partner) would make it click for him. He needed to experience it all for himself.

It’s a common story that rings true for all ages and psyches. We’re engaged (and learn) by doing, through experiences in which we ourselves are active participants. Brand experiences need to remove all the barriers and unnecessary formalities, and just let audiences get hands-on. Whether it’s to understand the power of a new piece of technology, a new shoe or a car, we need to invite audiences to see, feel, touch and taste it for themselves. If it’s done right, it will only leave them wanting more.

3. Treat me like a whole human

When you’re trying to look after kids, your pain-points are just more, well, painful. A recent visit to the London Transport Museum reinforced to me exactly why experience designers need to treat the attendee as a whole human and be empathetic with every journey need, from start to finish. This heavenly place had a spot to dump buggies, an un-precious canteen, spaces and exhibits navigable by little hands and feet, and 5-star nappy changing facilities. These things weren’t showstoppers in themselves, but they made the experience frictionless, stress-free, and so much more meaningful.

Taking a wide view of your audience as a human being and embedding solutions to answer all their needs at any event or experience is critical to attendees’ satisfaction. Deeper, more profound knowledge of your audience, and easing all tension points in their experience, means that they can focus on the desired experience objectives (in this case, gleefully honking the horn from the driving seat of a bus).

Sure, there are days in a working parent’s life that feel like straight-up survival mode. But among the mess and chaos, we should bask in those sporadic moments of insight and inspiration. Parenting can bring fresh perspectives, ideas and empathy to any role. All parents and caregivers should feel empowered to cross-pollinate learning and inspiration from family life into their work environment. Just don’t be late for pick-up.

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Agencies Agency Leadership Parenting

Content by The Drum Network member:

George P. Johnson

George P. Johnson is the world’s leading experiential marketing agency. We power brand experiences by enabling marketers to benefit from integrated experiential programs that leverage online, mobile, and physical brand interactions fueled by data. Clients in technology, automotive, consumer goods, finance, and other industries rely on us to help them compete more effectively on a global basis by creating and accelerating relationships with customers, employees, partners, media, and other influencers. GPJ is part of Project Worldwide, a modern agency network built for the needs of contemporary marketers (www.project.com).

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