Reunion and reconnection are the themes for the upcoming months, and brands are toasting to optimism and human interaction.

The societal demand for physical reconnection this summer is pulsing through communities around the globe. Getting together to celebrate outside of our overused Zoom screens has ignited an optimistic foretelling of truly post-pandemic life. From outdoor reunions to intimate dinners, brand campaigns are tapping into a hunger for togetherness in the midst of normalcy.

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Aperol Spritz, courtesy of Facebook

After one year of chaotic isolation and separation, the Harris Poll uncovered that 75% of Americans miss seeing friends and family, and 67% miss in person celebrations, such as graduations or birthdays. Of those polled, another 50% of people missed hugging friends and family, 50% miss having in-person conversations, and 42% feel a lack of connection with others.

Wrigley’s Extra Gum produced an ad that speaks directly to those missing some physical touch. “For When It’s Time” takes a satirical jab at the intimate, personal activities the public yearns to partake in as restrictions begin to lift. Although perhaps premature in its late April publication, the ad acutely pinpoints an exact opposite to separation: intimacy and togetherness.

Wrigley’s humorous commentary might be particularly striking to those who felt the emotional effects of a lack of physical touch in isolation. One 40 year old woman in London claimed that “not being able to have a hug was genuinely torturous.”

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IKEA

IKEA Spain unveiled a moving music video in mid-May. “But by your side,” or “Pero a tu lado” is a cover by singer Sandra Delaporte of the iconic Spanish hit song in which the actors pass others on the street, or bump into one another accidentally, speaking to the painful lack of touch in isolation but also conveying a sense of unity despite their physical separation.

IKEA’s marketing director Laura Durán said the “lyrics of the song are, in itself, a statement of intent that reflects the importance of helping others.”

Physical touch can directly affect health in many ways. A study conducted by the Journals of Gerontology concluded that “more frequent physical touch is significantly related to a lower likelihood of subsequent elevated inflammation.”

In fact, humans communicate through physical touch more intuitively than we might realize. The Touch Test reported by the BBC concluded that “a stranger could correctly identify the emotions the person was trying to communicate up to 83% of the time, with emotions ranging from anger, fear and disgust to love, gratitude, and sympathy.” And, in an additional observational study, “60% of people touch each other physically, hugging, kissing or shaking hands,” before separating or departing from one another.

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Aperol Spritz, courtesy of Facebook

Anticipating a series of reunions, Aperol Spritz is offering to celebrate with a drink, courtesy of their “Together Again” campaign that began in late April. Those who register online can order a Spritz at any participating bar, pub or restaurant in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, and Aperol would pick up half the tab. The promotion will run through the end of August, so those participating will have plenty of toasts to share through the summer.

For the last year, brands have learned to convey togetherness while respecting the social distancing norms and restrictive guidelines their audiences were experiencing around the world. This visual language of connectivity has been an important theme used by brands to convey “connection, support and wellbeing,” according to Adobe Stock’s Brenda Mills. Now, brands can embrace the physical reunions that their consumers are craving. By evoking a strong sense of togetherness, brands are optimistically reconnecting their ads with the potential of a summer of human connection.

Main image courtesy of Facebook: Aperol Spritz.