The Best Medicine: The Importance of the Happiness Factor in Content Strategy in 2019
At a glance, the news on how Taylor Swift finally buried the hatchet with best friend-turned-nemesis Katy Perry with a peace offering of cookies might seem somewhat irrelevant but once you’ve stepped back and start to look at the bigger picture, this is actually a pretty smart move from this generation’s defining pop star. Swift’s move isn’t just something that happened in isolation, she has an album coming out in August and just so happens, the second single from that album is accompanied by a video where Swift and Perry appeared together in matching costumes of French fries and burger, respectively.
Taylor Swift isn’t just a musician, she’s pretty much a multi-million dollar brand at this point and it’s almost impossible to separate the actions between Taylor Swift the person and Taylor Swift the brand. I’m not even sure if that distinction still exists anymore. When viewed under this lens, this positivity she’s trying to portray is part of a new image, pivoting from the more confrontational nature she showed in her previous album, Reputation. It’s not just with Swift, happiness and other general feeling of positivity has been making a comeback in the world of content marketing.
Keeping the negative thoughts at bay
Compare the first two singles of the upcoming album Lover with the first two single of Reputation and you’ll no doubt notice the contrast. Where the previous ones were dark, cynical and delivered with an antagonistic persona, the new songs are way more cheerful and chock full of empowerment messages. The jury is still out on how much impact exactly this pivot is going to have for her, commercially speaking, but by releasing a video full of empowerment message and cameos from the LGBTQ community right in the middle of Pride Month, she’s already dominating the headlines although the coverage hasn’t been uniformly positive.
It’s not just Swift’s heel-turn that’s been quite fascinating to watch, the British motoring show Top Gear has also, quite surprisingly made certain moves in that direction. Top Gear was in a bit of a limbo after they lost the trio of Clarkson, Hammond and May. New hosts Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc didn’t last long either and this year they’re back with two new hosts, Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff, and a different vibe of hugs and other nice moments and the reviews too have been quite positive. With all the negativity on the world right now, bringing happiness to your content could serve as a great antithesis.
Becoming the bearer of good news
Do you know why the phrase don’t shoot the messenger exists? This is because people have a tendency to blame bad news on the people delivering them as humans have a way of associating the message with the messenger even if the messenger doesn’t actually have anything to do with the message. This means that if you as a business want the public to see you in a positive light; it’s actually a pretty good idea to include positivity in your contents.
Emotions are infectious. We know how a person might feel is affected by what they read, see or listen to but how we feel about what we read, see or listen to is also affected by how they made us feel in the first place. In contrast with the don’t shoot the messenger cliché, there’s also a similar cliché in films about how a character that just received some great news tend to hug the person that delivered those news, even if that person is actually a complete stranger. Even if your company is just a name slapped on a logo, you can still evoke that same feeling by becoming a conduit for positive message, which is all the more important given the time we live in right now.
Standing out in a world of cynics
In an interview with The Guardian, McGuinnes stated that the reason for why Top Gear is moving in this direction of positivity is because “that’s the way the world is now”. You just have to look at the headlines to see just how messed up everything is now and why I could very much relate to what McGuinnes was saying. Including positive messages and feelings of happiness has been a popular marketing tactic for decades, as can be seen in Coca-cola’s iconic ad from the 70s, “I’d like to buy the world a coke”, but it’s especially important now given how cynical the world is turning into in the last few years.
This cynical turn isn’t without reason given what’s been happening around the world. What’s happening in Sudan right now is just alarming and I have a friend who’s living in Hong Kong and was a direct witness to what’s been happening with the protest over there. Add these to the rising inequality and a report that basically stated that the world is ending in 2050 and you start to wonder why we even bother anymore. It’s exactly because of this depressing void of negativity that the happiness factor is such an important element in content marketing right now.
I would like to note that I specifically mentioned happiness as a factor; your content should always be of substance and holds certain value. Happiness is the tone and the message, not the content. Taylor Swift is still making slick, pop songs she’s always known for and Top Gear is still armed with insightful reviews backed by incredibly production value thanks to the backing of BBC. Both Taylor Swift and Top Gear are simply packaging their contents in a way that’s different, which is the kind of example businesses might want to take notice of.