As we begin another year we at ThoughtMatter have been contemplating how brands acted in incredibly thoughtful ways over the past 365 days.
Here all studio members – from our director of operations to the graphic design intern – offer their unique perspectives on companies that positioned themselves as caring and considerate in 2017.
Rent The Runway
Jessie, Executive Director, Strategy
We have spent the last year talking about our clients, brands, businesses and, most importantly, their audiences. Rent the Runway has amazed me for its ability to tap into consumers’ needs and in how the brand responds to its customers’ behavior. This is not because I’ve read numerous articles and listened to many podcasts about Rent the Runway (though I definitely have), but because the brand has hit very close to home. For the past four months, I have held a Rent the Runway unlimited membership. When I returned to ThoughtMatter after maternity leave I realized I needed (and really wanted) to revamp my wardrobe. RTR has given me that opportunity. I’m at a point in my life that I can’t spend a fortune on clothing, but I also don’t want to show up in poorly made garments that fall apart after one wear. Renting designer clothes every week has allowed me to try out new styles, experiment with new trends and showcase my own personal taste. The experience feels tailor-made for me. I have even attended Rent the Runway’s power breakfasts on Wednesday mornings (fresh juices and manis are the way to my heart) at its flagship store in NYC. I have also found myself reading the company’s blog to find even more inspiration.
RTR has thoughtfully tapped into and put a value on self-expression. Cheers to a stylish 2018!
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
When Jimmy Kimmel entered the health care debate earlier this year, I think he took an important step with so many other Americans to take a stand and speak up. As the year unfolded, we saw brands fall from staying silent or from trying to enter the cultural dialogue in ways that were tone deaf or inauthentic. Kimmel, though, spoke out in a way that I think will continue to benefit his brand in the future. Here’s what happened in case you missed it.
Dana, Director of Operations
I’m going to go with José Andrés. He is a Michelin star chef with restaurants across the country who has published books and had his own TV series. Those who don’t follow the food world may have become aware of him when he pulled out of a restaurant deal with Donald Trump in 2015 after Trump made disparaging remarks about Mexicans. Andrés’ restaurant had been slated to be in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
This year he was in Puerto Rico five days after the hurricane with $10K in cash of his own money he planned to use to help, only to discover there was nothing and no one in place to deal with the catastrophe. Since he has been there he has set up a network of 20 kitchens, organized volunteers and served more than three million hot meals – more than the any organization, including the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
Dylan, Content Strategist
First off, any brand that puts out an ad campaign centered around Benicio Del Toro is good in my book. But more importantly, Heineken’s “Open Your Word” campaign was an excellent example of how brands can put an emphasis on what the world needs as much as anything else: empathy. Where Pepsi terribly failed, Heineken succeeded in showing how connection can be built among the unlikeliest of cohorts.
Scott, Senior Copywriter
Bullying is one of those things that everyone seems to agree is terrible – even many people who are, in fact, bullies themselves – but that few tend to really do anything about. Burger King showed this when it set up hidden cameras in one of its stores and watched how people reacted or did not react to two scenarios: a group of teenagers bullying a high school junior, and a Burger King employee “bullying” a Whopper Jr.
It’s heartbreaking to see more people get upset and do something about their sandwich being smashed than step in to try and help a young human being who is being bullied, but the video delivers a strong message that sticks with you. And that’s one effective way to change behavior for the better and make people more mindful of how they’re treating others and what is going on around them.
POW (Protect Our Winters)
This one is near and dear to me. Pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones started it in 2007, and it’s all about getting people to act to reduce climate change.
Lately they’ve been petitioning a lot to get places to move toward renewable energy. One such initiative that hits home is literally putting a price on carbon pollution in NY. POW is starting a dialogue with Governor Andrew Cuomo and trying to get him to commit to 100% renewable energy while also imposing a penalty on corporate polluters.
The organization already had success in some big mountain towns and cities like Aspen, Park City and most recently Breckenridge, all of which have voted to go to 100% renewable energy.
The New Yorker
Katie, Account Manager
I think The New Yorker has been a thoughtful brand this year particularly for publishing the first article about Harvey Weinstein. It was the real catalyst for exposing sexual assault in mainstream media and encouraging women to speak up. Ronan Farrow brought the story to other publications that said no, but The New Yorker (though I think they had to be asked a few times) was the one to ultimately put itself in a “risky” position by stepping up and running the story.
Mariah, Graphic Design Intern
Though its advertisments are sometimes cheesy and occasionally bothersome, FabFitFun is a quarterly subscription box I’ve belonged to for a year now. I believe it is a thoughtful company because it not only provides a product that I am ecstatic to receive every season, but the brand also makes me feel confident that I have made a sustainable purchase for myself, the environment and the world.
Every season, FabFitFun sponsors a non-profit with its box. In Fall 2017 it donated $100,000 to UNICEF. The brand has also worked with organizations such as ASPCA, Pencils of Promise, The Starlight Foundation and many more. Knowing that a portion of my money automatically goes to those in need makes me much more confident in my purchase. FabFitFun also sources only sustainable products. The company makes me more aware of what I’m buying, where it’s coming from and introduces me to other brands and initiatives that are doing good in the world.
FabFitFun also builds a community of women, as it has forums on its boxes and its own workout channel that will soon be followed by a cooking channel.
Jee-eun, Design Director
Patagonia, for its attempt to preserve the environment and courage to fight against injustices such as the president’s move to reduce the size of national monuments Bear’s Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.
This month Patagonia’s website was replaced with a strong bold message: “The President Stole Your Land,” followed by more information on the topic.
Additionally, earlier this year the former CEO Kristine Tompkins donated one million acres of park land to Chile.
Elizabeth, Studio Coordinator
I’m going to go with Rothy’s, the popular new brand of ballet flats that are made from recycled plastic water bottles. As I contemplate purchasing yet another pair, I think about what initially drew me to the product. I had recently started at ThoughtMatter and was looking for a classic, elegant, durable and comfortable shoe that I could wear to work (then to dinner) that wouldn’t cut my ankles after a long day of running around the city. Since comfortable flats are hard enough to find, I was delighted to find out how environmentally conscious the brand was.
“We have virtually no waste,” says Roth Martin, one of Rothy’s founders. “And as adhesives get greener or as waterless dyeing comes to fruition and is commercially viable, we can add it to our program.”
Not having Amazon Prime nowadays is like not having E-Z Pass if you live or work in the Tri-State Area. I don’t understand how everyone doesn’t have it by now. I already loved the two-day shipping Amazon initially rolled out with Prime, and now it offers one-day shipping! Are you kidding me?! On your last roll of TP? A couple clicks and BOOM! Get a mega 24-roll count by tomorrow delivered to your door.
Sure, it’s bad for the environment, but it’s just so damn convenient and beats the hell out of lugging that around groceries. Also, the free Amazon Prime video streaming service is often so overlooked even though it has so many gems to discover.
The world is your oyster and it’s only a click away. Thanks Jeff!
Tom, Chief Executive
When the FT reports the same news covered by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal its stories usually are better-written, shorter, reflect a broader perspective or more interesting angles and are more creatively presented. In particular I like its Big Read one-pagers that take a topic and in a snapshot in real time tell you everything you’d want to know about that subject, often including graphs, charts, boxes, fact lists and more. No “fake news” there. And I like its website too. (Don’t ask me about the app because I don’t like reading news on my mobile phone.)
The Bowery Electric
Johan, Art Director
The Bowery Electric, for keeping the independent dirty Rock ’n’ Roll spirit of downtown New York alive and well when more and more clubs are closing.
Martha, Client Service Director
By now most people know about Everlane’s sustainable business practices, radical transparency and minimalist aesthetic. In 2017, following a rather divisive election in the U.S., Everlane launched its 100% Human collection to bring people together while also raising money for the ACLU.
Regardless of race, gender or political leanings, we are all human. And now we can proudly express where we stand, whether it be on a hoodie or a T-shirt.
“We think two things matter most now – protecting those rights and remembering that we are more the same than we are different.” – Everlane (100% Human collection press release)
Shivani, Cultural Strategist
For me no other brand this year screamed “thoughtful” more than Glossier. Here is a company that treats its online followers in comment sections as mini focus groups to ensure that its customers feel heard. Not only did it hack social media to create a cult following, Glossier’s Instagram account and popular beauty blog Into The Gloss essentially became R&D labs for the development of innovative beauty products. Fabulous millennial pink packaging and fun stickers aside, Glossier taught me the value of customer service in 2017. Holiday discounts and weekly newsletters just won’t do it anymore. To be truly inclusive, a company needs to build customer feedback into its production process from the get-go.
Our picks run the gamut from the personal to the political. They reflect that companies bear much bigger and more responsible roles than just selling and appeasing shareholders. Why shouldn’t a hamburger restaurant comment on social evils like bullying? What stops other outdoor clothing brands from fighting for the protection of our national monuments? How can all digitally native companies incorporate social listening into product development?
These thoughtful brands demonstrate that the more attentively a brand behaves, the more meaningful and satisfying a purchase becomes. In 2018 we hope to see businesses embrace this mantra and make a real impact.