Empathy, Entertainment and Enhancing the Human Experience

January 31, 2020

At Starcom, The Human Experience agency, we believe that understanding people better and giving them experiences they value is the only way to grow any business, and with that lens we are inspired every time we see real human empathy in action. 

Watching a whole family grow up in a month on Outnumbered

Having binged watched the whole of BBC’s Outnumberedon the tube over the last month, it was incredibly powerful to see the three children grow into fully formed people. The keen empathy and observation of the scriptwriters coupled with the intuitive improvisation of the kids meant it felt like more than just watching a sitcom and more that we built a real relationship with real people. The final Christmas special saw the raw human condition displayed brutally realistically yet hilariously. I’m going to miss them!

Watching a precinct captain explain tolerance to a homophobe

I’ve never cared as much about US politics as I do right now, I’ve even had to learn the difference between a Caucus and a Primary! But if I hadn’t, I’d have never seen this brilliant example of tolerance and empathy from a precinct captain at the (shambolic) Iowa Caucuses. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mV1CkKDWUeI

 An Iowan voter wanted to change her vote for Pete Buttigieg after finding out he was gay, and the response of the precinct captain was so patient and understanding, demonstrating that the only way to persuade people is to first empathise with who they are and where they are coming from.

Watching Interior designer talk about the power of IKEA meatballs

On Netflix’s “Abstract, the art of Design” Ilse Crawford discussed her philosophy of interior design, how she believes that the job of the interior designer is to “understand the purpose of a building and the life that will be lived in it”. At the heart of her approach is one of empathy, how are people going to feel in a space, the mood it can create, the energy, the life. Ultimately, Ilse believes that “design is a skill to enhance our humanity.

In the episode on Netflix, Crawford was working with IKEA to make their restaurants places in which families could truly enjoy a meal together. Rather than being dismissive of the IKEA meatballs (although she was glad that vegetarian options existed) she celebrated how 640 million people a year had a meal together in an IKEA restaurant, and she was thrilled to have the opportunity to enhance that moment through empathy.

Hearing Global strategy colleagues talk about how they get insights…

In our global strategy council call this month, colleagues from around the world shared their personal techniques for getting outside their comfort zone and really getting inside the hearts and minds of our customers. I was inspired to push my own boundaries by some of the lovely suggestions. Some examples: get our agencies biggest gamer to run a training session on their favourite game, find a mom & pop shop in the neighborhood to ask them about how the area has changed, and my personal mountain to climb – spend an entire commute without headphones or a phone and just observe!

7 Tenets of Satanic Temple – Compassion is number one!

OK this one’s a bit left-field, but having watched the new Netflix documentary “Hail Satan!” I was inspired when I read the 7 Tenets of the Satanic Temple. Powerful, challenging, but above all compassionate and human, I was inspired to have my preconceived ideas truly shaken up.

The first tenet is one that frankly we could all do with living by…

  1. One should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason

Hard to argue with that! Another inspiring reminder that empathy is at the heart of all positive human interaction.

Dan Plant is Executive Head of Strategy at Starcom UK. See original article on The Marketing Society