Joseph Sassoon's Blog

Brand Stories that Make You Click

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Posted by Joseph Sassoon on July 19, 2016

What Brands Can Learn from Pokemon Go

With the recently launched Pokemon Go app, the cute pocket monsters have taken the real world by storm. As everyone knows, in the first week from launch there were more than 7,5 million downloads just in the US. And the Pokemon Go mania has similarly grabbed the Millennial generation in many other countries across the planet, from New Zealand to Italy.

Such accomplishment is unprecedented. Numbers, however, do not describe it well enough. More telling clues are the crowds that flocked to Central Park last week, attracted by the sight of a rare Vaporeon; or the many young gamers you can easily spot everywhere, wandering the city, looking into their smartphone, and stopping excitedly for no apparent reason.

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The little creatures at the centre of this commotion – by the name of Pikachu, Squirtle, Charmander, Bulbasaur, among many others – may seem to make this case very specific. But in fact many brands can learn a lot from it. Here is what is making Pokemon Go an incredible success, opening new ways for other brands to engage and thrill their audiences.

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Posted by Joseph Sassoon on July 9, 2016

The Tesla Accident

Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, was a special guy. His death, which occurred last May in a car crash on a Florida highway, was no less special.

Joshua was a patriot, willing to serve in the US Navy for more than a decade and specialize in disarming explosives – a pretty risky activity. During his service, he also had a stint with the SEALs, the legendary US Navy’s special operations force.

Before that time, Joshua had attended the University of New Mexico, studying physics and computer science. In the course of his life he always had a strong passion for technology and an eagerness to test its limits.

That passion, which he was able to survive during his adventurous military time, led to his unfortunate death in the accident that was revealed last week – the first known fatality in over 130 million miles where Tesla’s self-driving feature called Autopilot was activated.

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Posted by Joseph Sassoon on June 23, 2016

Designing for Trust: The Airbnb Story

There is more and more evidence that designing the right experience is key to the success of contemporary brands and companies. And this point was made exceptionally clear two months ago by Joe Gebbia, one of Airbnb’s two founders, in his speech at the TED conference in Vancouver.

If Airbnb has been so hugely successful it’s because – as Joe and his partner Brian Chesky discovered to their own surprise – good design can help people overcome their natural fears and get to trust perfect strangers. That’s actually how Airbnb came to life.

At the beginning, this was not crystal clear. And investors were not able to see how one could persuade people to rent their homes and their most private spaces to guests they knew nothing about. After all, said Joe, “we’ve all been taught, as kids, that strangers equal danger”.

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Posted by Joseph Sassoon on June 14, 2016

Google Understands Emotional Storytelling

Thanks to a smart piece by Jeff Rum in Social Media Today – 3 Steps to Effective Brand Storytelling Using Emotions – I discovered a Google video that I had missed. It’s called Reunion, and it was produced for the Indian market. It was published on YouTube on November 13, 2013 and immediately went viral, reaching 1.6 million views before debuting on television on November 15, 2013. As of today, the ad has earned more than 13 million views on YouTube.

As Jeff rightly says, Google could easily communicate with lists of facts and statistics (the vast number of people who use their search engine), but they don’t: Instead, they run ads like this video, which cleverly tells an emotional story that hinges on the use of Google. Instead of being told about the product, we are seeing it in action”.

Not all Google ads are similarly effective, yet this one is enough to tell that Google, indeed, understands emotional storytelling. The story is simple. Baldev is an old Hindu man in DelhiIndia, and Yusuf is an old Muslim man in LahorePakistan. One day Baldev shows his granddaughter Suman a dated photo of two children: it portrays him and his best friend Yusuf when they lived in Lahore before the Partition of India in 1947.

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Posted by Joseph Sassoon on May 30, 2016

Going Viral for the Wrong Reasons

A Chinese laundry detergent ad went viral last week, attracting a lot of criticism for its disgracefully racist storyline. Named by many “the most racist commercial of 2016”, it features a Chinese woman doing her washing. She is soon approached by a black man, with paint spread over his face and T-shirt.

He seems to be making some advances, but she responds by shoving him into the washing machine. He emerges after a few moments as a very clean, light-skinned Chinese man. She appears delighted, and the commercial ends with the payoff Change starts with Qiaobi.

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