These brands are nailing compassionate marketing

Last year, Bloom & Wild made a point of giving customers the chance to opt-out of Mother’s Day emails before they land in their inboxes. When the online florist first decided to put the power in our hands, I remember thinking what a great decision that was for a brand. Since then, I have experienced my own personal whirlwind. My Mam passed away following a very short period of intense suffering with pancreatic cancer last April, so now I am part of that audience who could really do with one less Mother’s Day email in my inbox.


Earlier in the week, I was unexpectedly assaulted with Mother’s Day POS outside Thornton’s in Newcastle. Since then, I’ve been on my guard when in the shops and the initial shock of seeing the marketing paraphernalia has died down. 

I’m surprised to see that no other brands have joined Bloom & Wild in giving customers the chance to opt-out of such communications. While I recognise that it’s impossible to “opt-out” of seeing certain triggers in everyday life (we’re not quite in Black Mirror yet!), but as a florist, Bloom & Wild has shown great compassion and awareness for its customer base. This is something we don’t often see from brands in any space, never mind in the retail industry.

I respect that it’s not always possible for brands to control who sees their messaging and how it affects them. For example, I expect Father’s Day is an equally traumatising time for many, but I’d really like to see more companies take this approach to marketing. In the meantime, if you’re sensitive to certain topics or periods, then I recommend making use of the “mute” function on Twitter and avoiding busy shopping centres where possible.

Many people will read this and think I’m advocating for a “nanny state” where corporations are forced to pander to consumers every weakness. That’s not the case, but what I do want is for more brands to consider that every single one of their customers is a human being and not just a vehicle for spending. 

And this consideration for compassion works both ways, as this week we saw the Twitter storm the doors of Yorkshire Tea after the Chancellor tweeted a photo with drinking the brand’s iconic brew. Over the course of a few days, Yorkshire Tea was subjected to torrents of abuse from all political leanings as many saw the image as a brand endorsement or even a sponsored post.

As a former social media manager, I immediately felt the pain of the person/people managing the brand’s social accounts. You can’t be expected to ignore that level of negativity and hatred coming at you from beyond the screen – especially when it’s your job to manage the maelstrom. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this whole drama was that breaking of the fourth wall by the Yorkshire Tea’s social team, who asked for kindness in a thread responding to the boycott: “… for anyone about to vent their rage online, even to a company – please remember there’s a human on the other end of it, and try to be kind.”

So, whether it’s an email address in a list or a company Twitter feed, we must remember that there’s always a human being behind it all. In Caroline Flack’s words: Be kind.