Brand Strategy

Etsy seeks to return to its roots with human-centric campaign

The company is seeking to change perceptions and distance itself from mass-produced items, which have flooded the site in recent years.
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Etsy

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Etsy was once known as a marketplace for artists selling handmade goods. After becoming a destination for resellers peddling drop-shipped and mass-produced items, the nearly 20-year-old brand is preparing for a refresh—and hoping to re-emphasize the human element.

In a new marketing campaign that rolled out this week, Etsy is focused on showcasing the work of its artisan sellers, not robots, and encouraging consumers to “keep commerce human.”

“Right now, in the cultural context, we see that there is such a desire and need for human connection and creativity, and there are concerns about the role of technology and the role of mass production,” Brad Minor, Etsy’s newly named chief brand officer, told us. “We wanted to make sure that we were going loud with a rallying cry to keep commerce human, and featuring our sellers as storytellers of that mission and that rallying cry felt right.”

Get in the game: The new campaign will run across TV, social, and OOH in the US and UK, and will appear during the upcoming Paris Olympics. Minor said the decision to get involved with the summer games is part of an effort to involve Etsy in a cultural moment, noting that the Olympics are “all about celebrating and recognizing human performance,” which is also a theme of the new campaign.

The hope for the campaign, he said, is to generate brand lift and continue to establish Etsy as a place to support small businesses and buy original goods.

Are we human or are we dancers resellers? Alongside the campaign, Etsy announced a series of policy and platform changes designed to show whether a product was handpicked by a seller (e.g., a vintage clothing item), sourced by a seller, made by a seller (either by hand or using tools, like a 3D printer), or designed by a seller (including with AI).

The updates come after the platform has faced criticism for becoming crowded with mass-produced items, and as it has faced pressure from fast-growing e-commerce sites like Shein and Temu.

Minor said Etsy is “focused on elevating and celebrating the human touch of every item on Etsy,” and is cracking down on mislabeled items. The platform removed four times as many listings that violated its handmade policies last year compared to in 2022, he told us.

“As we launch this effort to double down on the creativity that makes Etsy so unique, enforcement of our policies will be more important than ever,” Minor said.

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