What Spaghetti Sauce Can Teach Us About Empathy


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Ragu - Das Original © by Toni Birrer

Earlier this month, Ragu spaghetti sauce launched a video Facebook campaign called “Ragu Asks” aimed at uncovering the mystery of how parents motivate their finicky kids to eat. The short, 30 second video content that followed was created based on responses from their community and the result was a string of hilarious videos depicting parents going to bizarre lengths to get their kids to eat, which as most parents know can often times be a monumental struggle. Although the content was extremely exaggerated and a bit absurd it seemed to strike a chord with parents through its deft blend of comedy and desperation to speak at what can often be a daily struggle that parents fight to keep kids nourished and healthy.

Legendary actress Meryl Streep once said, “The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy, we can all sense a mysterious connection to each other.”

It’s a message that brands are quickly recognizing and using to establish emotional connectivity with consumers to demonstrate that they understand and sympathize with the intricacies of our lives. The days of depicting everyday people as super heroes if they use a product or service seem to be fading into a more nuanced brand approach, built on campaigns using more effective crowd sourced content, touching a nerve or identifying a heartfelt passion that is more likely to stroke an emotion.

One of the most amazing abilities that social media has given marketers and PR professionals is the capacity to delve deeper into consumer psyche than ever before. Through community submersion, we are now able to pick apart, analyze and create content based on emotional connections that are so often the motivators behind consumer buying habits.

Ragu and other brands are brilliantly executing these types of social media campaigns by mastering the art of empathy, an often elusive concept that others are still seemingly struggling to grasp. Empathy breeds compassion and a desire to help someone with a problem, and blurs the lines between consumer and brand by demonstrating that we are all often in the same boat in trying to find a solution. As Alvin Goodman, a Professor of Philosophy and Science at Rutgers University, once said, “(Empathy is) the ability to put oneself into the mental shoes of another person to understand (their) emotions and feelings.”

Any brand that ingrains in their employees the ability to empathize with their community is establishing a solid foundation for growth and can successfully build and sustain the component parts of their business essential to survival in the daily tooth and nail struggle for relevance.  From customer service to finance to support to marketing to sales and beyond, when you establish an empathetic approach it seeps into company culture and the ability to imagine the life of others becomes almost instinctive.

Learn how to be more empathetic. The next time you embark on a content campaign close your eyes and think hard about what emotion you are trying to relate to and use social media to query your community on what common problems they may have which directly relate to the need that your product fulfills.

What are some creative ways that you have used empathy to build your content?

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