Three weeks after teams of ambassadors representing the Society of American Florists stormed the west coast in a vintage VW Bus (“The Flower Power Mobile”), delighting unsuspecting passersby with free bouquets to demonstrate flowers’ stress-busting powers, the feel good initiative has remained in the spotlight, thanks in large part to social media.
The #StressLess Tour, which traveled from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon to Seattle, offered a creative take on the scientific study out of the University of North Florida that SAF commissioned last year. “These study findings, which resonate so well with consumers, provided the perfect opportunity for SAF to capitalize on the trend of ‘experiential marketing,’ by doing something memorable to attract attention, and which dovetailed with April’s designation as Stress Awareness Month,” said SAF Vice President of Marketing Jennifer Sparks.
Many advertising professionals, including Forbes contributor Steve Olenski, have praised experiential marketing as the answer for making lasting impressions that people want to share with their friends and families. “The best way to reach consumers in an emotional and engaging way is to create experiences that they actually want to be a part of,” he said.
Decorated in a cheerful motif of smiley faces, peace signs and daisies, The Flower Power Mobile served as a visual stimulus that prompted people to come closer, snap a photo and upload it to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat. Additionally, the flower giveaways inspired happy recipients to share their experience online. (Each bouquet included a sticker that told people about the study and encouraged them to post on social media with the hashtag #StressLess so SAF and others could follow the conversation.)
“People loved taking selfies with the bus, and many posted on social media how flowers turned their day around,” Sparks said. “They clearly spread the message that flowers provide a moment of calm amidst a hectic day.”
As important as the traditional media coverage for this program is, the #StressLess program is perfect for social media, “as people love to see inspirational posts and feel-good initiatives,” Sparks explained. “Even those who didn’t receive flowers directly could experience the feel-good emotions through social media because a poignant picture or video can make you smile.”
To take the message even further and to reach the millennial audience, SAF partnered with key social influencers with large, dedicated followings. Portland fashion blogger Kristina McInness joined SAF on location and spread flower power to her 87,000 Instagram followers and 5,000 blog subscribers. In an April 17 blog post, she outlined some of her favorite stress-reducing activities and detailed her personal experience giving and receiving flowers:
It sounds crazy that flowers out of kindness could really brighten someone’s day, but they CAN! Giving back to the community and being out there with volunteers from local shops was something I will always remember. There were people who started crying and would tell you all about the hard time they were having and how this just turned their day around.
After the event I thought about every time I have gotten flowers. Maybe I was graduating, or it was a holiday, birthday, or some type of special moment! Think of all of the times you have gotten flowers and how that made you feel. Flowers for me have been at some of the best moments of my life and when throwing events, it is one of the first things I think of getting! I now realize that treating myself or a friend ‘just because’ is important too.
Her April 20 Instagram post, which featured a photo of the Flower Power Mobile and facts from the UNF study, got nearly 1,000 likes and more than 100 comments, including:
- “Love this! I believe it too. Flowers are just too beautiful, so it makes sense they reduce stress.”
- “What a happy soul – this is why I always have flowers around.”
- “Definitely agree that flowers help relieve stress.”
- “I completely agree! Love my flowers.”
In Seattle, YouTube star Monica Church, whose channel “Millennial Life Crisis” has more than 350,000 subscribers, joined the effort to greet unsuspecting passersby with flowers and vlogged about the experience as she counted flowers as a top way to relieve stress. Her video, “6 Ways to Destress Your Life This Spring” has more than 18,500 views and counting.
The promotional opportunities of the #StressLess Tour will last long after the actual events, says Sparks. “That’s the beauty of capturing the consumer experience on film,” she said, noting that SAF was sure to have a camera crew on location to “capture the smiles, hugs, and special moments that play out the research so that others can experience the good feelings too. Social media is perfect for that.”
Production of a series of videos is underway to appeal to different audiences. The first video is complete and captures the fun of “going on the road” to spread the stress-relieving benefits of flower power. It will be shared through a paid promotion on social media, and SAF members are encouraged to share the video on their own social media channels to promote the benefits of flowers. Stay tuned for more videos in the coming months.
All of SAF’s consumer marketing programs to create positive perceptions of flowers are made possible by the generous supporters of the SAF PR Fund. Read more about the PR Fund and who supports it here.
Katie Hendrick Vincent is the senior contributing editor of the Society of American Florists.