Quiet Passions Are Getting Loud

M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment’s Ivana Ader shares her view on an emerging opportunity for brands to connect with a community of consumers through quiet passions

Reese Witherspoon loves to read.

As an A-List celebrity with a generous social media following, Witherspoon started to curate social content to share the books she was reading.

Soon there followed the creation of a community simply known as ‘Reese’s Book Club’, then a production company, Hello Sunshine, which transformed many of these books into TV series and films.

Like Oprah originally, and Emma Roberts more recently, celebrity book clubs have been mainstream for several years; they are the Hollywood equivalent of local communities built around the shared interest in this introverted activity.

And this community is a powerful one.

The process is a simple, but often overlooked opportunity for brands to realise.

Quiet passions build communities, from which commercial opportunities can be uncovered.

In other words, quiet passions are created when a sense of community is established through participation in social gatherings. These micro-communities of interests in novels, poetry, spoken word, chess (to name a few quiet passions) are then embraced through the mainstream channels of film, fashion and live music, which is an opportunity brands should take notice of.

Taking on the commodification of quiet passions into a literal product, Acne’s recent book-inspired cross-body handbag, named ‘Book Smart’ sold out online.

Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton turned their iconic trunk into a chess board for an unexpected game-off ad ahead of the World Cup between Messi and Ronaldo. The result? One of the best performing content pieces ever.

Since 2020 and the premiere of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, chess has been an increasing passion interest around the world.

As with the Vuitton example, more recently quiet passions are leading in the creative for marketing campaigns.

In 2021, Valentino removed any images in their marketing approach for their F/W21 collection campaign by letting words paint the picture of expressing yourself through fashion by enlisting established and emerging writers including Donna Tartt, Ocean Vuong, Fatima Farheen Mirza and Raven Leilani. The campaign was a success and the following year saw Valentino launch ‘Narratives II’ featuring 17 new writers appearing in the words-only campaign.

Coca-Cola tapped into the same trend by enlisting George the Poet to write and perform a spokenword piece inspired by the brand’s Open Like Never Before campaign. Celebrating the re-opening and new-normal of COVID-19 the commercial opens with George saying “Wait, stop,” before arresting the viewer with the spoken-word poem.

More recently, at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, we launched The Absolut Choir, turning up the volume on a variety of causes and conversations, proving that when we mix, we have the power to create a better, more open world.

Choirs, often an overlooked passion area, are becoming vastly popular in the UK, with 2.8 million people part of a local choir to find confidence, make connections and build communities.

With this passion space growing in the UK, we created a choir of activists, led by singer Olly Alexander of Years & Years, and orchestrated a live concert for the performance, layered with spoken-word performances, all designed to amplify the passion with purpose.

As a result, we placed the Absolut brand at the heart of communities, conversation, and drove genuinely meaningful change for those involved and everyone who encountered the campaign.

What we can, and should, be learning from these brands is that there is a genuine commercial opportunity hidden in the pages of quiet passions.

And what’s more, it’s a trend that’s only getting louder.

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