If you were born anytime around the 90’s, chances are you were lucky enough to have watched Steve and Blue find clues and excitedly open the mail from your childhood living room. But since it’s last air date in 2006, the Blue’s Clues audience is well into their adulthood.
In honor of the show’s 25th anniversary last month, Nick Jr. brought back Steve Burns—aka the original Steve—to address his now grown-up fans. The video, posted to Nick Jr.’s Twitter, instantly went viral and millennials and zillennials reacted to the emotional tribute all over the internet – just check out all the replies to the original tweet.
Unlike other nostalgia-driven revivals and comebacks, this video resonated. But why exactly? Ultimately, it comes down to how Steve (and Nick Jr.) embraced empathy in several ways. Here’s how we can take note.
The first thing that Steve does is ask if we have a moment to talk. Beyond just mimicking the call and answer style of the show, it’s a simple invitation to the audience to engage in a conversation. While a simple gesture, it lets us know that the speaker is respectful of our time and wants to meet the audience on their level. This act ensures that the audience you’re reaching is open and receptive, and prevents the sharing (or selling) of an unwanted message.
Straight away, Steve also engages us by tapping into our emotions and helping us to visualize a moment: “You remember how when we were younger, we used to run around and hang out with Blue and find clues and talk to Mr. Salt and freak out about the mail and do all the fun stuff? And then one day, I was like, ‘Oh hey, guess what? Big news, I’m leaving. Here’s my brother Joe, he’s your new best friend,’ and then I got on a bus and I left and we didn’t see each other for like a really long time?”
In asking us to recall certain scenes and memories from the show, he pulls us back into our childhood feelings and acknowledges both the good and bad. But instead of glossing over the negatives, Steve again asks to have a conversation: “Can we just talk about that?”
The language throughout the video is simple, direct and sincere. And he doesn’t shy away from controversy. While the show continued for a few seasons in his absence, Steve suddenly left for college, leaving a lot of young viewers confused, upset and experiencing mixed emotions.
So, he addresses his actions and explains: “I realize that was kind of abrupt. I just kind of got up and went to college. And that was really challenging, by the way, but great because I got to use my mind and take a step at a time, and now I literally am doing many of the things that I wanted to do.” By directly acknowledging the hurt and sharing honest insight into his life since his absence, Steve is able to build back trust, provide emotional validation and closure (while also quieting old conspiracies and rumors).
While the real Steve went on to get involved in music and some acting, he’s hinted that his exit was fueled by the pressure of feeling too old and being the right person for the show. In the video, both Steves are able to be truthful, adding another layer of authenticity that reads through.
Then Steve takes it further. Our old friend who would lead us through his daily routine of clues, finally acknowledged the hardships his viewers navigated without him:
The last couple of years have been challenging for everyone and it’s a simple truth that people want to be heard and seen. By turning it on us and acknowledging the ups and downs that his viewers have also faced, he demonstrates empathy in a way that isn’t too heavy-handed and matches the growth of his audience.
Finally, Steve thanks and shows gratitude for those who watched and supported him, letting us know that “all the help that you helped me with when we were younger is still helping me today, rightnow.” Getting emotional? Me too.
While analyzing data as a marketer is important, too much of a data-centric take can create disconnect that can lead to messages that aren’t compelling. Nick Jr.’s video proves that vulnerability and empathy can go a long way—within reason. Approaching the content you create from a perspective that places the audience’s needs and concerns first is the quickest way to build trust and grow your base.
Now, it’s our turn: At Corporate Ink, we’re proud of the work we do for our clients. It’s more than writing a blog to meet a deadline or submitting an article to meet the needs of our SOW – we’re writing for YOU. And we love working as part of your team. Shoutout to all of our awesome clients!
And to those of you looking to create a message for your business that resonates – We’re happy to help!