Angela Southall
Angela Southall 26 July 2019

International Friendship Day. A More Personal Way to Connect with Consumers?

Despite the growth in the unashamedly materialistic shopping events such as Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day, many retailers are looking to connect with consumers on a more personal level. Could International Friendship Day provide such an opportunity?

International Friendship Day, introduced by the UN in 1997, takes place on 30 July. Having been celebrated across countries and cultures for many years, International Friendship Day appears to be building up a whole new wave of momentum enabled by social media. Retailers recognise the great humanising power of associating their brand with this authentic and heart-warming calendar event, and social media platforms enable the day to be easily championed and shared.

International Friendship Day

For online retailers, it represents a perfect counter-weight to the more unashamedly materialistic ‘hard sell’ retail bonanzas that are Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day. The emphasis instead, provides a vehicle to highlight the human faces and experiences behind their products and services, which can offer the greatest mileage in building up consumer trust and confidence.

This is crucial as retailers come to realise that they can no longer rely on one-way broadcast style sales and marketing techniques.

Today’s discerning consumer needs something more. They crave authentic, two-way conversation and value exchange that earns and builds trust in certain brands. For retailers running referral campaigns the synergy is ideal. This is at the heart of why referral marketing works as well as it does in today’s digital-first, trust-based marketing era. A friend’s endorsement of a product or brand is the most trusted form of endorsement there is. And so International Friendship Day is the perfect opportunity for brands to express and leverage this principle.

Inspiring examples of brands embracing International Friendship Day

Coca Cola: Friendship Machine

Back in 2010, Coca Cola set up a Friendship Machine across the Latina America region, to mark ‘Dia del Amigo’. These special machines were just like any other Coke vending machine, except for one thing: they were 3.5 metres tall, with an unreachable coin slot. And what was pretty much the only way to get a bottle? Why, good-old fashioned teamwork between friends, of course. For friends able to scramble up to the coin slot, two bottles of Coke were offered for the price of one. The machines and the resulting video made for a funny and heartwarming online campaign.


In 2016, Amazon chose to highlight a poigniant moment of inter-faith friendship. Their ad depicted the story of friendship between a Christian vicar and a Muslim imam, appearing to jovially notice each other’s aches and pains in their late years. Then, in a moment of alligned compassion and thoughtfulness following their meeting, both get on Amazon and end up ordering the exact same gift of kneepads (to make kneeling for prayer more comfortable) for each other. Amazon skillfully celebrates the diversity of their customers base, with a moving message of shared humanity across cultures.


Platinum Days of Love

Based on the age-old theory that friendship is at the core of every love story, luxury jewellery brand Platinum Days of Love released a series of 6 online videos to celebrate Friendship Day, carrying the #FriendsFirst hashtag. The videos act as heartwarming sketches of happily married couples, highlighting the dedication, respect and humour that underpins their lifelong bonds. The videos received 160K+ views each, with thousands of reactions and comments. And of course, thousands of people were prompted to get involved on social media, by sharing their very own #FriendsFirst stories.


A great example of a creative campaign from one of the world’s best loved confectionary brands. Cadbury celebrated their latest collaboration with Oreo with a friendship-themed animation depicting the adventures of Pip the block of chocolate, and an Oreo cookie. The playful video proved a hit on social media, providing the perfect reflection of the product's 'double the yum, double the fun' message.


3 powerful reasons why brands should be leveraging the power of International Friendship day

Nothing unites people — and builds trust — quite like friendship

What all of the above examples demonstrate in their own way, is the universal power of friendship to bring people together and create memorable shared experiences. Friendship is one of the most simple and powerful expressions of human connection, affection and trust for one another.

Brands capable of and willing to demonstrate empathy for their customer base, and showcase with art and skill the human connections that exist between them are on to a real winner in today’s social-first digital landscape.

Resonating with customers on their emotional level — as a friend would — is the ultimate trust earner

Today’s modern consumer wants to interact with brands that not only empathise with the real lives behind their target customers, but are brave enough to express their own human, relatable personalities.

The savviest retailers are realising the importance of resonating on the right emotional level with their customers. For many, that means dropping the stiff corporate messaging and sales-y scripts in favour of building compelling personalities that reflect the language and values of those they’re trying to reach. Brands capable of creating emotional responses and interactions that are on the same wavelength as the consumer’s social network are those that are building real trust and lasting connections.

Building an authentic social network of brand advocates is the most powerful growth strategy imaginable

As our clients’ successful referral marketing campaigns have demonstrated time and time again, there’s almost limitless potential to tapping into the power of trusted friendship circles, when done right. Once one customer is happy enough with a brand’s product, and identifies enough with them on a personal level to recommend their product to a close friend, the referred friend is far more likely themselves to refer another of their friends to the product.

The effect of word-of-mouth growth marketing, compounds over time. And the simple underlying principle that drives that growth? The power of friendship.

Putting your happy customers at the centre of your marketing strategy has never made more sense. Is it time your brand embraced the power of friendship?

This post previously appeared on the Mention Me Referral Blog.

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