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In May 2020, a one-minute video tugged on the heartstrings of locked-down viewers all over the world. Set to “What the World Needs Now (Is Love),” Adobe’s #HonorHeroes video featured stunning digital portraits from the community of everyday people doing extraordinary things: a grocery store manager framed by stained glass in a saintly fashion, chefs selflessly presenting their food, a chemist, a doctor, a celebration of mothers and more.
Now with over 52 million views, the video resonated powerfully at a time when people around the globe so desperately needed a healthy dose of compassion.
“One of the things that really stood out to me this year is compassion,” said Ann Lewnes, Adobe’s CMO and executive vice president of corporate strategy and development, during a virtual Forbes event in September. “Compassion in marketing has never been one of the primary goals for most companies, but at Adobe, that’s always been part of our culture.”
Understanding how important compassion and empathy are today, Adobe led its pandemic marketing efforts with these sentiments at the forefront. This strategy ultimately helped the digital experiences company better connect with customers during trying times and contributed to Lewnes’ inclusion on Forbes’ 2021 World’s Most Influential CMO list.
From honoring heroes to granting students access to Creative Cloud to amplifying diverse voices, Adobe’s open-hearted marketing approach has taken many innovative forms.
Engaging Audiences To Honor Heroes
What made Adobe’s #HonorHeroes campaign so powerful was that it was a collaboration with the brand’s own creator community. Each portrait in the moving video was a response from community members who picked one front-line hero in their lives to honor through digital art.
“We saw sisters, brothers and aunts celebrate nurses, doctors, grocery workers,” Lewnes explained “They created portraits of these individuals who meant so much to them.”
The result was an entire campaign full of connection and compassion. In addition to the video, more than 100 #HonorHeroes portraits are on display at the campaign website and on social media through thousands of #honorheroes posts. Backing the campaign’s emotional impact with practical impact, Adobe also donated over $6 million to organizations providing vital Covid-19 assistance to communities around the world, and this past year, Adobe employees gave over $9.5 million in matching grants to local and global nonprofits.
Granting Remote Students Access to Adobe Creative Cloud
When students and workers were suddenly working remotely as a result of the pandemic, Adobe acted quickly to help them continue their creative endeavors.
“We taught classes to kids on illustration. We helped our small business and enterprise customers maintain their business continuity. All of those, for us, were table stakes,” Lewnes said. Ultimately, Adobe granted access to Creative Cloud to 30 million students—another display of putting customers first and leading with the heart.
Elevating Diverse Voices
Adobe is also committed to raising the visibility of diverse creators. The company’s Diverse Voices initiative amplifies underrepresented voices by giving them a platform to share their stories with the world.
“Creativity has the power to unite us, help us cope, inspire us and drive positive change,” said Lewnes. “But creativity needs to be more accessible to, and celebrated by, every one of us—regardless of race, ethnicity, ability, gender or sexual orientation.”
Adobe’s Diverse Voices platform is one dedicated place where creators can share their work and be inspired by others. In addition to videos and written stories covering a wide range of creators, Diverse Voices also includes Create Change, a video series that features conversations between creators from different disciplines about how they use creativity as means of empowerment, inspiration and impact.
But Diverse Voices is about more than just visibility. The platform also includes career resources for diverse creators, including scholarships and grants, creative residencies and career development programs.
Boosting Creators With Women Create Wednesday
Adobe has also put effort behind raising the profiles of another underrepresented group in the creative community: women.
“Women are sorely underrepresented, as they are in technology,” Lewnes said. Through Women Create Wednesday, Adobe spotlights women creators every week. Not only does the Women Create Wednesday program promote the stories of women illustrators, entrepreneurs, photographers, advocates and more, but it also directs viewers to click through to the women’s social media accounts, giving them a high-profile signal boost.
For Adobe, “Creativity for All” is more than a marketing tagline. Through its storytelling, outreach and collaboration with its audience of creators, the company is proving the phrase is also a belief system and a guiding principle.
While the pandemic provided an ideal time for consumers to hear Adobe’s compassion-forward marketing, it’s clear that projects rooted in innovation and empathy will continue to resonate in the post-pandemic future.