By Satyen Dayal, Executive Director, Technology, Edelman London.
I often look to Hollywood to see how studio creatives are interpreting the future potential of technology.
One film that always captures my imagination is Chris Nolan’s Interstellar. In the opening scenes we see the lead, an astronaut turned farmer, capture a decommissioned surveillance drone. His plan? “give it something socially responsible to do, like drive a combine”.
In the movie nations no longer have the resources to spy on one another. Instead the ‘outstanding solar cells and circuits’ of this drone are put to a higher purpose, serving mankind’s most pressing challenge: global famine.
If the purpose of science fiction is to imagine the consequences of new innovation and technology on people B2B communications can learn much from it. Stories and storytelling in a powerful vehicle to showcase tech’s potential for good.
At a time where brand awareness can seem challenging to achieve, B2B communicators have begun to grasp the importance for more humanised storytelling in B2B communications. Buyers are not machines, after all (not yet anyway).
This is why we are increasingly seeing briefs that lend themselves to social purpose. Not Tech for Good per se, more demonstrating the value of technology by putting it to serve people and humanity.
In a recent example, Edelman’s technology practice and creative team recently worked with Sinch, a leading CPaaS provider which has built a cloud communications platform used by many technology and telecom firms. It lets businesses reach every mobile phone on the planet through mobile messaging, voice and video. In doing so it makes seemingly impersonal communications more intimate and human.
‘Making it personal’ was the kernel of our eventual campaign. Mindful of the darker side of excessive mobile and social media usage, we put Sinch’s technology to a societal challenge, an increase awareness of mental health.
From this came ‘Text for Humanity‘, the first-ever global texting switchboard that lets people send a positive message, of optimism and hope, to a stranger, anywhere in the world via SMS, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. And through this be directed toward the resources of partner Mental Health America.
To be clear this was not a simple repacking of the technology.
Sinch architected an entirely new omnichannel service that demonstrated its full capabilities. It was not an actual product that customers would buy. However, in doing so it sent a powerful message about the brand, what it believes in and stands for, and the cause it championed.
Our own Edelman data reaffirms that 64% of respondents are belief-driven buyers who will ‘choose, switch, avoid, boycott a brand based on its stand on societal issues’. Whether a consumer or a B2B buyer, we all want to be inspired by brands that take a stand on the issues that matter.
The campaign resulted in a 300% increase of business inquiries for Sinch. And in hitting these KPIs, the attention the campaign received also drew interest from a number of adjacent causes. There was even a COVID-19 edition programmed to send unconditional support to frontline heroes.
Perhaps in time all B2B tech briefs will be put to a social purpose?