media update’s Taylor Goodman takes a look at five PR brand campaigns that managed to perfectly capture that human touch.

These days, people want to support brands that stand for the same things they do. This makes humanising your brand crucial for success. 

As PR professionals are highly trained storytellers, they can make the process of connecting with your audience a whole lot easier. And the proof is definitely in the pudding!

Here are five PR campaigns that helped businesses humanise their brand:

1. Burger King: Order from McDonald’s 

The campaign
As two of the biggest fast-food chains in the world, Burger King and McDonald’s have a fierce rivalry. This competition, however, was set aside in a recent campaign by Burger King, when the brand flipped the narrative by unexpectedly urging consumers to ‘Order from McDonald’s’. 

© Twitter

This tweet was published by Burger King in the United Kingdom, three days before the country entered its second lockdown

The Covid-19 pandemic has been especially rough on the hospitality sector and the fast-food chain reminded consumers that “restaurants employing thousands of staff really need your support at the moment” — even if they are fierce competitors. 

How did it humanise the brand?

Burger King taking the high road and rooting for one of its opponents was something many didn’t see coming — but this is why this was such a powerful campaign. 

It inspired feelings of awe as Burger King demonstrated its human side. It proved they are not solely concerned with profit but rather that brands can and should work together in trying times.

From a PR perspective, Jessica Pardoe, a senior PR representative at Source PR, stated that she “personally really liked this as it was bold enough to win them plenty of press coverage, as well as generating a lot of conversation on social”.

2. Uber: Thank you for not riding

The campaign

As lockdown swept through 2020, Uber launched its ‘Thank you for not riding’ campaign, which encouraged travellers to rather stay home.

The video is a short, heartwarming montage of people self-isolating in their homes, video calling friends and family and trying at-home workouts. 

It ends with a powerful message reading ‘Stay home for those who can’t. Thank you for not riding with Uber.’

As a business that relies solely on people using the app to travel from point A-to-B, this campaign garnered a great deal of attention on social media, as well as in advertising and PR spaces. 

Additionally, Uber launched its ‘Move What Matters’ campaign where the company “made a global commitment to help move these workers to the frontline by giving away 10 million free rides and deliveries globally”.

How did it humanise the brand?

This campaign was a surprising and self-sacrificing move for the brand to urge users to not use their service and to stay home. 

It was a responsible move for Uber to utilise its platform to promote caution and safety during the pandemic. This, coupled with the relatable video montage, made major strides in brand humanisation. 

With this campaign, and its ‘Move What Matters’ effort, Uber proved to consumers that it cares about more than just money; they prioritise social good. By clearly displaying its company values, Uber was able to cultivate a more credible and compassionate reputation. 

3. Zara: Shot-from-home

The campaign

In the vein of excellent PR pandemic campaigns, Zara’s ‘Shot-from-home’ initiative featured models who took photos of themselves in the brand’s latest fashion collection. 

As most studios and warehouses (non-essential businesses) were closed due to the pandemic, the fashion industry praised Zara for its innovation in getting models to shoot the product themselves, from the comfort of their own homes. 

The campaign resulted in a collection of out-of-the-box images (some more than others) that reflected the personal style of the models that photographed it. 

© Zara

How did it humanise the brand?

As Zara’s campaigns are usually polished and high-fashion, it was refreshing to see these models in a more relatable setting. This, coupled with the quirky and creative nature of the photographs, saw a seemingly poised brand act more human. 

Additionally, the campaign also drummed up a great deal of controversy online, with many customers poking fun at the abnormality of some of the photographs — something that drove its popularity even more. 

Although this wasn’t necessarily positive publicity for the brand, the humour consumers used online still counteracted the brand’s usually ‘put together’ image, working to further humanise it in the media.

© Twitter

4. KFC: #RateMyKFC

The campaign

KFC’s ‘#RateMyKFC’ campaign saw KFC leverage the power of user-generated content on social media to engage its audience. The brand did this by encouraging individuals to post their versions of some of the fast-food chain’s signature dishes on Twitter alongside the hashtag #RateMyKFC. 

This hashtag quickly took social media by storm, with users flooding it with pictures — good and bad — of their homemade meals. The fast-food giants then compiled the best (read: funniest, disastrous) meals into a video, played out to Celine Dion’s ‘All By Myself.’

The video ends in a tongue-in-cheek manner, with the words ‘We missed you too, but we’ll take it from here.’

This campaign launched in celebration of lockdown regulations easing up, allowing KFC to reopen 500 restaurants in the UK and Ireland for delivery. 

How did it humanise the brand?

The #RateMyKFC campaign was genius for multiple reasons. Firstly, by using user-generated content in its campaign, the brand was immediately relatable. 

As we can all relate to not being able to access fast food or other luxuries during lockdown, and having to do more cooking ourselves, this is a struggle many consumers will relate to.

Secondly, this is undoubtedly a funny and lighthearted campaign — and if there’s any way to humanise your brand, it's with well-placed humour. 

Udi Ledegor, CMO at Gong, put it perfectly, stating “All the human qualities that make for an interesting person will also work for creating an interesting brand.”

5. Google: #AYearInSearch

The campaign

2020 was a rough year for us all, but Google did its best to highlight all of the highpoints and challenges we faced with its #AYearInSearch campaign. 

This video montage featured clips from monumental moments throughout 2020, namely the breakout and spread of Covid-19, the #BlackLivesMatter protests, the Amazon fires and the death of prominent figures like Kobe Bryant. The video is narrated by a poem written by Kofi Dadzie, a Ghanaian-American poet. 

Although the campaign has a bittersweet tone, it shows the users that even through difficult times, they are not alone. 

Whether they are searching ‘how to change the world?’ or ‘why is Mars red?’, there are likely millions of other internet users with the exact same questions and concerns. 

How did it humanise the brand?

Although a mammoth brand like Google doesn’t really need the publicity, the #AYearInSearch campaign told the story of everyone’s collective journey through a difficult year. 

This campaign humanised Google as it told a story with a personalised message, bound to pull on the viewer’s heartstrings. Additionally, it showed footage of normal people self-isolating and pulled on memories that the company’s large audience can relate to. 

This heartwarming campaign helped individuals to take a positive look at the year and communicated important messages like equality and the pursuit of knowledge with tact and elegance.

This helps audiences to view Google as a brand that stands for something and that is always there for you when you need it, perfectly encompassing brand humanisation. 

What do you think makes a brand authentic? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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Want to know more about building an authentic brand? Be sure to check out Three ways to build brand authenticity with PR
*Image courtesy of Pixabay