Spikes Asia 2016: 'We are super connected but socially impoverished': BBDO's Andy Wilson

Andy Wilson of BBDO and Nicole McMillan of Wrigley took stage on day two of Spikes Asia 2016

Sep 22, 2016 04:40:00 AM | Article | Raahil Chopra

Speaking on day two of Spikes Asia 2016, Andy Wilson, head of strategy, BBDO and Proximity Asia, said, "Today is not about building super social brands or talking about likes and followers. It's about talking about social and its human meaning."
He touched on how social media hasn't empowered social lives and the 'record level' of isolation and loneliness in the world today. "The worrying part is that the younger and more 'connected' generations are the ones who fall under the isolated and lonely brackets," said Wilson, before explaining how this opens up an opportunity for brands to fill the gaps in their lives.
He added, "Our ability and need to be social is because our brains are wired to be social. If I'm walking past a street and happen to watch kids play in a playground, there's a happy feeling in watching them that comes up. The same thing happens in a movie theatre during a sad scene, where the sadness among co-watchers spreads."
Wilson explained, "Our behaviour is contagious. Everything we learn is learnt in a social context by looking at our parents, friends and teachers. Lifestyle behaviours are driven by (the) social network in which we live. Reciprocity is the foundation of our economic, moral and legal lives. Bonding is the primary means to regulate stress. From the day we are born our human connections help us calm down. It's a human touch that helps a baby stop crying. That continues through our life."
He added that better relations lead to better health. 
Wilson spoke about the love hormone, Oxytocin, and said how that's increased every time a person has felt good. "The humble act of watching a (good) advertisement could raise levels of Oxytocin. We have monitored an increase of Oxytocin when someone has watched a good ad."
Wilson observed that the 'sad part' was that material progress is leading to social deprivation and backed it with four points:
  • Urbanisation has led to community fragmentation. A third of the households are now consisting of people living alone. Even families who live together hardly meet and spend time with each other.
  • Material consumerism has led to poverty of nurturance. 
  • Hard skill education has led to social skill deficits.
  • Social media has led to isolation.
He surmised these points by stating, "So, we are super connected but socially impoverished."
Wrigley's vice president of marketing, Nicole McMillan, entered the discussion, stating, "It's true that brand owners have been driving connections but neglected social issues." 
She added, "Fifty per cent of the millennials have lost trust and faith in brands over the last 10 years. Eighty per cent of them want brands to be part of the solution. Sixty six per cent of them are ready to pay more for brands that do social good, and in Asia that number is even bigger. So, this sets an opportunity for us and we can build socially nutritious brands."
McMillan offered three points that could help make 'socially nutritious brands':
  • Cultivate your humanity
  • Communicate your purpose
  • Communicate with passion
She ended the session with a note for those looking to restore trust and said that they must look to change ways.
"From consumer benefits, brands must look at positive change. From authority we must look at authenticity. From selling, we must look at giving and from analytical it must be about empathetic."