Five brand activations that melt the heart


“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Wise and famous words from Aesop, and a sentiment that’s never been more relevant than today.

All too often we hear news of terrible atrocities that are almost too much to bear. Human beings can be so cruel to one another, but are also capable of acts of remarkable kindness and goodwill.


We really love to see brands that recognise this and show their softer side by tapping into human nature at its very best. With that in mind, we turn our attention to five of our favourite examples of kind-hearted brand activations from recent years. Tissues at the ready…

Brand love for Coke creates unity

This campaign continues to make us smile several years on. So much of life’s sadness can be attributed to political conflicts between nations, but through its ‘Open Happiness’ campaign Coca-Cola looked to challenge the difficulties that exist between India and Pakistan head-on.

How? By promoting unity through a pair of connected vending machines, each hooked up to a webcam and a giant touchscreen monitor.

Free Coke was on offer for all that took part in the activation, but only to parties on both sides who agreed to come together for joint activities such as drawing peace signs and dancing.

It’s simple. It’s poignant. And while Coca-Cola clearly isn’t the answer to overcoming all of life’s woes, this brand activation was a very small step towards tackling a huge issue.

Samsung breaks down hearing barriers

Unexpected experiences can have a powerful impact. Samsung’s heart-warming gesture to promote the launch of video call centres for hearing-impaired customers shows what a difference marketing with heart can make.

In a real tear-jerker, Samsung constructs a stunt that allows a hearing impaired man from Istanbul to experience one day with no barriers, as all of those that he encounters – even complete strangers – communicate with him via sign language.

At first perplexed by the experience, the stunt – which saw all involved undergo a month of sign language training – is eventually revealed and the reaction it provokes is highly emotional. The video was a huge success for the brand, and a reminder to us all that sometimes a very small change can make the world of difference.

Cape Town street store empowers the homeless

Brand activations don’t have to be big and flashy to get the message across. Sometimes, simplicity is the best approach.

This experiential pop-up fashion shop for the homeless in Cape Town was highly effective for one reason: at its heart, it was about respecting those in difficult circumstances and treating them with dignity.

The Street Store’s philanthropic approach not only provided valuable clothing to the needy at no cost, but it also empowered them by giving them the chance to make a choice.

Bridging the gap between the haves and the have-nots in South Africa, the experiential nature of the activation allowed people to clearly see that their donations were being put to very good use.

Taking home happiness with Coca-Cola

Back to Coke once again, and this time the popular soft drink brand turned its attention to expats in Dubai.

The holidays are coming (a sentiment that Coca-Cola is pretty familiar with by now) and the best part of the festive season for many is going home to loved ones. But for much of the UAE’s population, this time of year involves flying to other parts of the world to see their families.

Juggling personal belongings with gifts is a big challenge, with many having to sacrifice heartfelt presents due to luggage restrictions. Seeing this issue, Coca-Cola brand ambassadors came to the rescue, handing out bottles of the drink with very special labels attached that also acted as 5kg extra baggage tags.

Overjoyed recipients marveled at the kindness of the brand during the course of this highly-memorable activation that was a perfect fit for the season of goodwill.

Organ Donor Foundation’s touching live brand experience

We’ve saved the best for last. If this one doesn’t tug at your heartstrings, nothing will.

The Organ Donor Foundation recently delivered a highly thought-provoking activation outside an Apple store in Brussels. Ahead of the launch of the latest iPhone, excited technology fans were approached by real people currently awaiting life-saving organ transplants, with a proposition: they would take their place in the queue, if they would sign up to be organ donors in return.

An activation that immediately puts life’s priorities and troubles into harsh perspective, the ‘Reborn to be Alive’ campaign reminds us all that every day is a blessing, and we should actively look for opportunities to spread a little kindness whenever we can.

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Author bio


With nearly 30 years of marketing experience, both client and agency side, I’ve acquired a rare perspective on brands and business: I believe you have to challenge things creatively if you want to grow sales. Consumer technology is reshaping our world, and it’s only the great brands that stay on the crest.