About two weeks ago, Nathan Apodaca was on his way to the warehouse where he works when his 2005 Dodge Durango gave out on him.
Not wanting to be late for work, Apodaca grabbed his longboard and left his car behind. As he skated down the highway, he spontaneously decided to film a quick video. Sipping on a big bottle of Ocean Spray cranberry juice, Apodaca lip-synched to an old Fleetwood Mac song, "Dreams."
The video quickly went viral, racking up millions of views. Fleetwood Mac retweeted it. People everywhere started filming their own recreations of the video.
It equated to tons of free advertising for Ocean Spray. And now, the company's responded.
Ocean Spray partnered with a local Nissan dealership to gift Apodaca a new "cranberry red" Nissan Frontier pickup truck, along with a cargo bed fully stocked with juice.
"When we saw Nathan Apodaca's video and the joy it created, we knew we needed to celebrate him and the happiness he spurred," Ocean Spray chief executive Tom Hayes told the LA Times in a statement. "Yesterday Ocean Spray was humbled to gift Nathan with something of importance to him--a truck we knew he needed."
Ocean Spray's move is more than a marketing ploy. It's an example of how companies can use emotional intelligence to connect with customers.
Why Ocean Spray's response is so great
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions. Simply put, it's the ability to make emotions work for you, instead of against you.
By hopping on the viral bandwagon, Ocean Spray did a great job of maximizing the moment. Hayes, who told The New York Times he skateboarded when he was younger, even created his own version of the viral video in an effort to "keep the vibe going."
Hayes said, "I've got to tell you, it's a lot more difficult to do it when you're drinking a bottle of juice."
Ocean Spray could have stopped there. Or it could have shipped some free juice to Apodaca. But, instead, it decided to address a real need.
Apodaca could obviously use a new car. In an interview with TMZ, the viral video creator jokingly described his Durango as running strong, despite having over 300,000 miles. "My car, it just shuts off sometimes," Apodaca said. "The battery, I don't know what it is, it just shuts off."
By working with a local car dealer to solve that need, Ocean Spray's team went above and beyond: They saw a loyal customer, one who had gifted them tons of free publicity, in need. So, instead of just saying thanks, they showed thanks.
This is what compassionate empathy is all about: the ability to transform perspective-taking and compassion into positive action.
Showing empathy in this way takes more time and effort, but it's an investment that builds strong connections and loyalty. Apodaca was already a fan, but how do you think he feels about Ocean Spray now?
You don't have to guess; Apodaca already showed us--in a second video, driving his new truck. Drinking, you guessed it ... Ocean Spray cranberry juice.
By the way, that new video has already racked up over 14 million views.
That's what I call making emotions work for you, instead of against you.