By Andrew Roberts, Managing Partner  (originally published in BITE magazine) The inimitable Woody Allen famously once said “I am ...

Seeing things in a positive light

By Andrew Roberts, Managing Partner 

The inimitable Woody Allen famously once said “I am at two with nature.”

It seems he is not alone. Biophobia, or an aversion to nature, is increasingly common amongst generations raised with iPads, Netflix and Grand Theft Auto.

What’s more, statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency suggest that adults spend 93% of their lives inside buildings or vehicles. We’re spending more and more time under what Richard Louv calls “protective house arrest.”

This is worrying for a number of reasons. As human beings we are programmed to seek connections with nature which have a huge importance on our health and well-being in the modern world.

Related to this, the World Health Organisation expects stress related illness, such as mental health disorders and cardio-vascular disease, to be the two largest contributors to disease by 2020.  Unsurprisingly, this diminished connection to nature and the ubiquitous presence of technology means we have less opportunity to recuperate our mental and physical energy.

Research has shown that by incorporating direct or indirect elements of nature into our lives, it’s possible to reduce stress, blood pressure and heart rates, whilst increasing productivity, creativity and self-reported rates of well-being. But how can we escape a self-imposed ‘biophobia’, if these are the unavoidable conditions of modern living?

A simple way to reconnect with nature and reap the positive benefits is exposure to natural daylight. Daylight is proven to be essential for our health; it has a positive effect on our circadian rhythm and helps balance our hormonal levels of serotonin and melatonin - important hormones linked to mood and sleep.

It’s therefore no coincidence that mindfulness – the zeitgeist wellness movement of our generation – focuses on light as a key tenet of its philosophy. Those practicing mindfulness believe that “light has always symbolised the Life Force behind all creation.” In other words, light has always been an important part of the human experience, associated with power and positivity.

With so brands using positivity in an abstract manner, subject to different personal interpretations, we thought it would be interesting to explore how light could be used as a metaphorical manifestation of positivity.

Hyundai is a South Korean car manufacturer that epitomises positive, forward thinking. They are one of the 3 big ‘chaebols’ (family owned conglomerates) in South Korea, a country that has leapt from being one of the poorest countries in the world to a developed high-income country in just one generation. Hyundai’s philosophy ‘New thinking, new possibilities’ reflects this, and means they are constantly challenging convention and pushing boundaries. They are forward thinking, but with an understanding of their responsibility to customers, society and environment.
They believe in the call to arms of ‘together for a better future’ and making the impossible possible: optimism is at the core of their beliefs.  Over the past 9 months we have distilled this optimism by using the positive effects of light and nature in two key campaigns.


During the dark month of January, a few minutes of light are added to each day. Winter is a time when it can be a struggle to get natural daylight – the nights are longer and darker and the mornings colder and greyer. British Seasons have an impact on people’s health: around half of us reportedly suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to thyroid problems and brittle bones, and on a psychological level, can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In light of this, these two additional minutes of daylight do not seem inconsequential.

As an optimistic brand that celebrates innovators, Hyundai celebrated the #TwoMoreMinutes we gain in a unique content series. Collaborating with four inspiring and optimistic people: tech journalist Becca Caddy, clean energy entrepreneur Carlton Cummins, outdoor filmmaker Tom Reader, and Hackney City Farmer Chris Pounds, we explored how each individual embodied what it means to be optimistic in different ways, in a bid to inspire the same optimism in Hyundai’s social audiences.

It worked: our audience felt inspired to make the most of even the smallest amount of sunlight in a typically “blue” month. We saw engagement and interest double on Instagram and Twitter in January, and the #TwoMoreMinutes content were the best performing posts against the Hyundai monthly social calendar on all channels.


As a follow up we focused on the optimism of summer. The summer months mean longer, brighter mornings, which make it easier to get out of bed and get a head start. Research showed that the successful innovators of the world were already doing this: from Benjamin Franklin, who famously rose at 5am and asked “What good shall I do this day?” to Tim Cook’s eye watering habit of checking emails at 3:45am. If inspirational innovators are doing this, why shouldn’t we make the most of the light summer mornings, too?

This was the perfect opportunity for Hyundai to inspire people to break from a daily routine that keeps them from nature.  By focussing on 7 key individuals that make time for their passions already by Creating headspace, getting ahead, finding a passion, feeling energised or inspired or simply enjoying life and staying healthy. The #before7 campaign was a highly visual inspiration piece that used sunrise as a strong motif. We challenged our audience to do something that sets them up for the day before 7am over the summer months, exploring their passions and feeling the positive benefits.

Results: The campaign is currently live, but the response so far has been positive, with over 300 people sharing their own experiences of seizing the day #before7. Our hero film also captured the attention of 417k viewers, prompting 107 to spread optimism to their followers.

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