Etsy exits emotional storytelling in new ads amid seller strike

New push from 72andSunny highlights different products

Published On
Apr 18, 2022

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Etsy is trying out a new marketing approach. The emotional narratives that have served as a cornerstone of its branding in recent years are taking a backseat to more product and buyer-specific messaging. The online marketplace will debut “Live in Original,” a TV campaign that illustrates how consumers are drawn to different products, this week.

“After the last two years, we felt the urge to show consumers being their best selves, and the creative highlights a sense of individuality and living to the maximum,” said Ryan Scott, chief marketing officer at Etsy. “Unlike other brands, Etsy doesn't appeal to just one style, and our positioning reflects the various tastes and values of buyers.”

The new push is happening during a strike by many Etsy sellers who are reacting to a recent increase in transactional fees to 6.5% from 5%. The increase, announced in February, went into effect on April 11. One Instagram account, called Etsy Strike, urged consumers to boycott the marketplace from April 11 through April 18 to oppose the new fees. “Stand in Solidarity with Artists/Makers/Crafters” read one post, which advised shoppers to connect with artists off the Etsy platform. “Don’t pay Etsy for bad behavior,” the post noted. News reports have counted the number of striking sellers to be in the thousands.

Etsy said the increase is the result of increased marketing costs the company pays on behalf of its sellers. Last year, Etsy spent $600 million on marketing; the company plans to invest more this year, including in TV, with influencers and in out-of-home and podcasts.

“It’s very clear right now that our sellers want us to be marketing them even more, to be providing even better customer support, and to make sure our marketplace maintains the integrity of our policies. And so we want to make sure we have the firepower to invest in those things,” Etsy Chief Executive Josh Silverman said recently at the Wall Street Journal Jobs Summit, noting that the 6.5% fee compares favorably with other marketplaces.

Etsy worked with agency partner 72andSunny on the campaign, which will air in the U.K. and in the U.S. on national TV, streaming services and digital video. One spot stitches together two 15-second stories to showcase multiple products.

Etsy has thrived during the pandemic, as more consumers turned to online buying and sought out unique and one-of-a-kind items. The company has also attracted more sellers as artists monetize home crafting and pre-pandemic hobbies. Etsy currently has  5 million sellers, more than double its 2 million sellers before COVID-19. Last year, the company generated $2.3 billion in revenue, a 35% rise over 2020.