I recently received an email from a brand I like asking me if I wanted to opt out of its communications. Not ALL communications, mind you, but it did want to “recognize that Father’s Day can be a really difficult time for some. If you’d rather not get Father’s Day emails from us this year, opt-out, we got you.”
Hallmark-esque holidays have always sat strangely with me. And, full transparency, I have my own personal struggles with some of those holidays. No matter your position on Father’s Day or Mother’s Day -- or comparable holidays -- the fact that a brand has the emotional intelligence to understand that these days can be messy, painful, difficult, or avoided completely is refreshing. A simple offer (in this case, opting out of holiday communications) not only delivers utility for those looking to avoid an inbox barrage of Father’s Day content, but also shows the brand understands life is complicated.
The latest NPR “Life Kit” podcast speaks about the importance of mourning losses, even when they seem small. Dr. Kenneth Doka, professor emeritus at the College of New Rochelle in New York, notes that “disenfranchised grief refers to a loss that's not openly acknowledged, socially mourned or publicly supported… Disenfranchised grief could also refer to other losses that aren't acknowledged: a pet dying, losing a job or missing out on milestone events like prom or a 50th birthday.”
We’ve all experienced some form of disenfranchised grief in the past year. Maybe it was canceling your 50th birthday vacation in 2020, not getting to meet your first grandchild or nephew for the first year of their lives, or missing going to your high school prom.
Personally, I never got to take what would inevitably be my last visit to Florida to see my grandfather. I also missed throwing my youngest kid both a first and second-year birthday party with family and friends.
Missed opportunities like this are only the tip of the iceberg, and for the most part, pretty surface-level compared to other kinds of grief that the world has experienced over the past 15 months.
We’re supposedly entering the new Roaring Twenties. Yet not taking the time to find ways to acknowledge any form of grief -- or providing the tools to help consumers do so -- doesn’t quite pay respect to the various levels of struggles we’ve all had, the losses we’ve seen and experienced, and the mental health toll grief, in all forms, has taken.
A brand demonstrating authenticity, courage, relatability, and empathy will meet consumers with the right mindset. Whether or not you decide to offer opt-outs to marketing messages surrounding potentially triggering holidays, recognizing that certain days, dates, and holidays may be anticipated in very different ways can help inform your communications when going to market.
By reframing or restructuring your communications, your brand messaging will feel inclusive, accepting, and empathic to your consumers on all ends of the grieving spectrum.