When we talk about the most important tools we have at our disposal as marketeers in 2024, what comes to mind?

Perhaps, it’s the slew of recent innovations in software and data that have revolutionised our understanding of the way our campaigns and brands are being received online. Perhaps, it’s basic human creativity: that intangible, often mythologised ability we have to come up with ideas, concepts, and stories that – if we’re lucky – resonate and excite those around us.

There’s no denying that these are all vital elements of modern marketing and advertising. However, there’s one tool that seems to have been all but forgotten about in recent years.

A tool so invaluable, it’s the very basis of all human-to-human communication:


In his essay on Empathy-based Marketing, professor Carsten L. Pedersen from the Copenhagen Business School breaks down all the ways in which our field has become increasingly deprived of a basic desire to understand our customers.

He argues that, with the rise of marketing as a newly-established study, science, and technology, a rift has formed between brand and customer. As operators have moved away from the traditional sense-checks and feedback processes that have existed since our very origin, we’ve slowly morphed into a field of pseudo-authorities: relying on “established methods”, “best-practices”, and “previous findings” to sell the validity and effectiveness of our ideas to clients.

“We’ve slowly morphed intoa field of pseudo-authorities”

Suddenly, customers have become an afterthought; a bookend to the marketing pipeline at which point all we can do is desperately hope with crossed-fingers that they’ll engage with our campaign.

When did we stop bothering to check whether they even care to begin with?

The good news is that – as with all things – the pendulum always swings back the other way. As our industry is challenged and disrupted like never before by global conflicts, turbulent economies, and radical new technologies: the one thing that will never fail to make a brand stand out is empathy. After all, it’s only by gaining an authentic understanding of your customer that you can truly win them over.

“The one thing that can never fail tomake a brand stand out is empathy”

Our aim isn’t to shift away from data all together but rather to reintroduce a more holistic approach to the field: one where we strive to truly understand your customer’s wants and needs, rather than telling them what they should want to see and engage with. As we at Dirty continue to develop and differentiate ourselves through this empathetic approach to marketing, I have a feeling that more and more agencies will follow our lead.

Watch this space.

Juha Elo

Creative Director

Dirty Talk

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