The Power of Passions: Lessons Learned at the Authentic Marketing Conference

Kyle Snarr / September 21, 2016


Image courtesy of OluKai

When I started here at Flipboard one year ago, it was becoming more evident that our best users were utilizing the app for content around their interests. In fact, they were reading even more content around what you could call their passions. This insight is sparking a lot of innovation at our company —but until recently, I’ve been a little uneasy hanging our hat on the word “passions.”

Let’s face it, it’s a bit of a loaded term. When using this word in marketing materials, it’s not hard to start sounding melodramatic. I mean, there was even a soap opera called Passions in the late 90s! Yikes!

So I was pleasantly surprised last week—as a participant and panelist at the Authentic Marketing Conference in Playa Vista, CA—when passions became the running theme of the day. This conference explored the benefits of brands, agencies, and influencers being more genuine, honest, and earnest in their marketing strategies and executions.

Whether it was intended or not, this exploration led many panelists to the same conclusion. When a brand exhibits a bona fide enthusiasm for its industry, product, and audience—it’s felt on a deeper level and generates real attraction…almost like a gravitational force. And the term ‘passions’ was used more times than I could note throughout the sessions.

We heard from influencers who were drawn to create honestly affectionate content for products, just because they believed in the pure passion of the brand. And I was struck by the words of Kerry Konrady, director of marketing at OluKai, a Hawaii-inspired footwear and lifestyle brand. He essentially said that because OluKai attracts influencers and customers who are so enthusiastic about their shared passions, they become true extensions of the OluKai philosophy. In other words, they become family. For instance, OluKai’s product photography is often comprised of great lifestyle shots of real people who actually love and wear their shoes.

By the end of the day it was clear: authentic marketing is fueled by passions—a word that’s packed with all kinds of potentially connotative and denotative landmines. But that’s an amazing thing for Flipboard, as we continue to orient ourselves to be the one place for the best articles around all your interests and yes… passions.

~KyleS is curating The Upside Down