By Darren Sudman
CEO of Unless Agency
Did you think of the Beatles when you read the headline? I did. The pandemic has been a great litmus test for friendship. Hopefully, you’ve found yourself surprised and moved more often than disappointed.
Oscar Rodriguez’s owns Cantarito Molito’s Grill in Long Beach, California. Unfortunately, his story will sound very familiar. The pandemic decimates his business. His network alone cannot provide relief. He’s lost. On the verge of shuttering his restaurant, he reaches out to the community.
Over 110,000 eating and drinking establishments in the United States closed for business—temporarily or permanently— according to the National Restaurant Association. This is almost one out of every six!
However, Oscar story took a different path. He raised over $23,000 on GoFundMe. This is fascinating to me. I want to know how, or more importantly, why. What moved 567 people – patrons and strangers – to help him?
Does he have the best Mexican food in the area? He has 4 stars on Yelp, so it is good, but not the best. Is it because he has a huge following? His Facebook page only has 490 Likes. Is it because his story of being a child immigrant from Guatemala living the American dream pre-pandemic struck a chord? The answer can be yes to all of these questions, and without conducting a survey, it is impossible to know what motivated these people to help him, or the millions of other consumers around the country that helped other businesses in 2020.
However, one thing seems pretty clear. None of these campaigns lead with price or product – the messaging we typically receive from businesses. They don’t try to impress us with cool animation or entertain us with funny bits. It’s authentic. They speak of dreams, visions, hard work, helping others and faith. They appeal to our senses and values. Oscar’s plea can be found here.
So, why don’t companies embrace this approach all of the time? A 2019 study by Porter Novelli/Cone showed that 79% of consumers like to support companies that have similar values because it is a way for them to show the world they care. Oscar’s campaign is the anecdotal evidence of this study.
We don’t need a pandemic or tragedy for companies to reveal their values and purpose. We just need for them to share. The data, and stories like this one, show that we’ll respond. Consumers will speak with their wallets and employees will work with conviction. And, when the going gets tough, we’ll be there to provide a little help, as friends.
Unless is a creative agency promoting cause marketing, focused philanthropy and mission building.