Based on analysing 633,231 relevant poems from HaikuJAM and other content sources, INSPO inspired 6 marketing ideas that, if leveraged, could make the day truly special.
Here they are.
One of the lessons that 2020 has taught us is that we can survive with fewer objects in our lives. Thanks to quarantines and lockdowns, we've been forced to reduce our purchases to the core essentials and minimise contact with the physical world.
It will be interesting to see if this consumer consolidation will inspire a new way of gifting on International Friendship Day. Of course, there is a magic to physical objects that are loaded with symbolism and positive intention, such as friendship bands, but what would be even more magical is if we doubled down on the bonds beneath those bands.
After all, it is the bonds that infuse the bands with meaning. Otherwise, as one of the poems expressed, we'd be just faking it. Plus bonds don't need to be sanitised for they are perpetually pure...
When it comes to the comparison between online and offline friends, there is a range of views. Many feel that online friendships are less meaningful and even fake. Underlying this is likely a belief that the physical world of atoms is richer than the digital world of bits, and that the most important things in life belong in the former world. Some also reckon that virtual friends are not really there for you at the most critical times, like during a crisis or even at moments of personal triumph:
Lost count how many friends I’ve lost on FB and other social media platforms because I’m getting into law enforcement. Could honestly careless. This job is my calling and passion. If you don’t support that get out of my life.
— Jen (@jenblueline) June 27, 2020
Another perspective is that sometimes its much easier to be honest and vulnerable with online friends for they can be less judgemental - INSPO revealed that they don't judge was one the most associated phrases with online friends. This probably has something to do with the fact that many online friends are strangers who have less context and opinions about your identity. Simply put, they come with less baggage. In front of a stranger, you can be whoever you want to be and not necessarily who you are in this moment. And thus your present self doesn't hold you back from your future identity.
Now, regardless of your take on the authenticity of online friends, thanks to COVID-19 the only way for most of us to connect is through the internet. So it makes sense to embrace this reality in campaigns on International Friendship Day and celebrate all the positives of bringing people together online.
John Green said it best: The measure of a friendship is not its physicality but its significance.
In 1997, Winnie-the-Pooh was designated the UN Ambassador of Friendship. INSPO confirmed this association, detecting friends as one the most common words used when people wrote about Winnie-the-Pooh in HaikuJAM.
It could be fun for creatives to revisit some of these timeless fictional characters and remind us of the purity of their friendships. Not only would this put a smile on our faces but also evoke childhood nostalgia, which is a powerful emotion.
Here are some other fictional relationships that INSPO identified as being associated with friendship:
🤠🦸♂️ Woody and Buzz
👳🐒 Aladdin and Abu
👧☕ Rachel, Monica and Phoebe
⚡🧙♂️ Harry and Ron
🧽⭐ SpongeBob and Patrick
Groucho Marx was one of America's greatest comedians and had a remarkable talent for wit and wordplay. But his above quote could be tapping into something even beyond humour, more specifically, the power of associations.
At a first glance, friendship is a human social construct but it's worth questioning this. After all, if a friend is someone who is there for you during a time of need, then this definition could extend beyond people to other living things (e.g. dogs) and even inanimate objects (e.g. books): dog owners are probably closer to their dogs than other humans and we've all probably experienced the magic of a book that feels more like a companion than a bundle of pages.
The point here is that the world is filled with friendly things and not just human friendships. And this idea could inspire some super creative campaigns. It's especially perfect for brands whose products fall under the category of friendly things, for instance:
🐧 Penguin Random House - books
🧸 Hamleys - toys
💐 Ferns N Petals - flowers
✒ Parker - pens
📔 Moleskine - journals
And for the brands whose products are not exactly friendly, there's no reason why they can't amp up the friendliness and generosity on this special day: discounts, freebies and thank-you notes always go a long way...
When INSPO surfaced this poem by Mary Oliver, I gasped for air... and then saved it to my Inspiration Board. This is the kind of writing that really doesn't need to be broken down, analysed or explained. Any attempt at doing so just feels reductive. All we should do is appreciate the power of the underlying idea: our closest friends are the people we can be alone with.
As mentioned earlier, some feel that the online world is an empty popularity contest: an infinite game where we are in the feverish pursuit of likes, shares and 'friends'.
Wouldn't it be rejuvenating if we stopped trying to scale those metrics, and focus our energies on the few whom we can go to the woods with? And could the woods be a metaphor for a new online quiet space for your most intimate relationships?
Food for thought.
It's surreal to think that your dearest friend was once just a stranger. And then your paths collided, triggering the alchemy from stranger to friend. You may even remember the precise moment of connection but it's more likely that you bonded over a series of encounters.
Regardless of the specifics, the early bloom of friendship is precious and worth remembering. International Friendship Day is the perfect occasion to look back and feel grateful for all those strangers who carved a special place in our hearts. Its also an opportunity to look forwards and get excited about all the wonderful friends we are yet to make.
This theme resonates on a deeply personal level for it inspired the creation of HaikuJAM, our company's first product. Now on the surface, we built a social writing game that grew to over 1M people. Upon closer examination however, HaikuJAM is a serendipity machine that turns strangers into friends, through the beautiful mechanic of writing together. The experience taught us that through purity of intention and conscious design, it was possible to take a world of strangers and isolation, and transform it into one of friendship and connection. I shared our story in this TEDx talk about loneliness and technology:
What's new on INSPO?
📸 Visual Inspiration - a brand new filter for images from Unsplash. The images will dynamically update as you explore associations and you can also save your favourite ones to Boards.
✍ Improved Notes - on a Board, you can now see all of your notes in one place, which should make it easier to synthesise ideas. Plus you can add general notes to Boards, and not just to specific pieces of content.
💌 Send INSPO invites - directly invite friends, colleagues and clients to INSPO! Your referrals will ensure that they have higher priority on our waitlist and so they'll be onboarded quickly.
Join the waitlist here