Toronto agency Juliet is taking a “Heart Shaped Glasses” view of the world, with a new digital zine it describes as a broader exploration of the world and its people, rather than the sometimes myopic worldview taken by marketing and advertising.
“Our core philosophy at Juliet is that you can only build brands people love, by loving your audience,” said Juliet partner and co-head of strategy, Marc Pardy. “Audience love is not something you do just when you get a brief or talk to a client, it has to be a muscle you develop all the time.”
The agency describes the quarterly zine as being rooted in the idea of venturing out and listening to people from all walks of life, with open eyes and hearts. “This isn’t about a client ask,” it stresses. “There is no ‘so what?’ for brands at the end of this story.”
It takes its inspiration in a quote from French writer, poet, journalist Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
The premiere issue is based on interviews with four people who are returning to the dating scene after losing a significant other. It began with a premise of talking to older people about online dating, but changed direction when an early interviewee relayed a story of returning to the dating scene after losing someone.
Pardy described it as “an exploration of the deep emotions that accompany love, its tragic farewells, and what it’s like to entertain love again.”
Juliet staffers found interviewees through referrals and on subreddits like r/widowers, and asked if they’d be willing to relay their story and experience. They fed people’s verbatim responses into the generative AI tool Midjourney to create a series of evocative images that accompany the words.
Pardy said the intention of “Heart Shaped Glasses” is to showcase Juliet as an agency rooted in humanity. “I think the main thing is that we become known as a place that puts people at the centre of everything we do,” he said. “It’s more like a brand play than a business development play.”
Other agencies have launched culturally focused projects that attempt to take a broader view of the world and how marketing fits within it, such as BBH Labs, or TBWA with its “cultural intelligence unit” Backslash. Pardy said that while it taps into audience research, “Heart Shaped Glasses is not rooted in any marketing thinking.
“It’s really not about marketing trends, it’s about human beings,” he said.