We’ve witnessed some of the most unforgiving weather over the past few years. Between the torrential floods of winter ‘14 and the record-breaking heat during the summer, weather has been pretty much constantly in the news.
Using the weather to market your company is one of the easiest – and most creative – ways to get some attention. It’s been popular in the United States for a while now, utilised by the Weather Channel and Nokia, among others.
With the UK finally getting hip to the advantages of weather-based marketing, experiential events and marketing magazine Engage turned to Swedish-based raincoat company Stutterheim to get some insight into how to use this trend.
Miserable weather is Stutterheim’s M.O. They’ve been working under the tagline “Swedish melancholy at its driest” since they first broke onto the scene – evoking a particular gloomy feeling that comes with rainy days and turning it into a positive.
Johan Loman, Stutterheim’s marketing director, spoke to Engage about the tagline’s origins, why it has worked so well for them, and why more companies should follow suit and put weather front and centre.
Tell me about the creation of Stutterheim’s tagline ‘Swedish melancholy at its driest’.
It was a part of when Alexander Stutterheim wrote the story about finding his grandfather’s raincoat, bringing it back to town and seeing people in the rain covering themselves with newspapers and so on. The idea of Stutterheim started right there and formed in talks with people about their relationship to rain.
Almost everyone said that they felt blue and tried to avoid it by staying inside instead of going out and embracing it. This was a combination of bad outerwear available and a social view of rain as “bad” weather. We instantly thought that if people can’t feel blue from time to time they would have a hard time being creative as those two areas are connected closely.
Why does evoking Sweden’s ‘melancholy’ weather work so well for your company and your brand?
I think we do many things that work well – melancholy being part of our story is mainly helpful as brands within fashion tend to make up a deeper meaning about what they do and why. It is sometimes a bit like they need to confirm their existence with these stories.
I think part of our success comes from the fact that people are not used to brands making beautiful items and talking about deep and important things at once. It is either one way or the other. We manage to balance both. But without our growing line of amazing items the story would just be words on paper so it´s important to balance both as they are so important in their own way.
What other ways do you exploit the weather in your marketing?
Absolutely. We recently did a little online activity with photo community Eyeem.com that has 16 million members. We asked their community to send us “melancholic landscapes”. And oh my they did.
We also award a creative person with the “Most melancholic person” award every year. So far we have awarded musicians and writers. In our entire PR, I would say journalists ask about the weather-aspect before asking about the collection. So I think that the connection is very much present in everything we do these days, which of course is nice to see.
Was there any worry that putting the word ‘melancholy’ so prominently in your marketing would put off customers?
As we grow with an amazing speed this is an on going discussion. For example, we had the idea of doing the award outside of Sweden but felt a bit insecure if it would work as well abroad because of the level of humour attached to it. Maybe this isn’t something that is as easy to understand outside of our garden. But at the same time I think so.
How do you sell and market your brand in countries with a sunnier climate?
All markets where we are successful have a rainy period sometime of course. But in some areas it´s obvious that our success is more based on us being a premium brand, having the right celebrity endorsements and media visibility as well as the right retailers. But success sales-wise is of course closely interlinked with the level of rain.
Do you see a trend growing in using the weather as a marketing tool?
Absolutely. I would say it´s more products-oriented though. You see all the luxury brands and also others below them adding items that have a strong weather profile. I have not seen any amazing examples of using weather as a marketing-tool yet though. But it is definitely a trend among fashion brands that consumers want to buy high quality garments with very specific purposes.
Feeling blue inspires creativity. What if August Strindberg, Ingmar Bergman, Karin Boye and hundreds of other Swedish artists had felt happy all the time? Would they have produced their fantastic work? No. Being melancholic is an essential part of being a human being. If we try too hard to get rid of melancholy, it’s almost like we’re settling for a half-life. To embrace melancholy is ultimately to embrace joy.
Melancholy shouldn’t be confused with depression. Melancholy is an active state. When we’re melancholic, we feel uneasy with the way things are, the status quo, the conventions of our society. We yearn for a deeper, richer relationship with the world. And in that yearning, we’re forced to explore the potential within ourselves – a potential we might not have explored if we were simply content. Through our melancholy we come up with new ways of seeing the world and new ways of being in the world…
Let’s embrace Swedish melancholy. Embracing rain is a good start.
Dedicated to celebrating and promoting the power of live events and experiential marketing, Engage magazine focuses on the vital role that live events play in today’s marketing mix and how powerful they are in delivering a unique customer engagement experience. For more information, go to www.engage-magazine.co.uk or follow them on Twitter at @EngageMagUK.
What do you think eventprofs? Do you use weather as a key marketing tool? Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, or tweet us at @weblogevents.