Recently, the Ad Council hosted a panel at the 3% Conference, an event that encourages female involvement in the advertising industry. Our panel titled, “If Only Advertising Could Use Its Powers for Good,” examined how major brands and top agencies all over the world are lending their expertise and ad dollars to advancing social causes. The panelists, Vida Cornelious, EVP and Chief Creative Officer, Walter Isaacson; Amy Law, Creative Director, Swirl Inc.; and Josy Paul, Chairmain & Chief Creative Officer, BBDO India joined our own Anastasia Goodstein, SVP, Digital, in a conversation about why social causes have a place in advertising. In case you missed the panel, here are three key learnings.
“Empathy as a Universal Currency”
When it comes to how a company should choose a cause to support, all three panelists said the cause must tug at the heartstrings of both their employees and consumers. In other words, a company must find something that people can identify with and support. Ariel’s “Share the Load” campaign, headed up by Josy Paul, did just that. Instead of picking any cause to support, Ariel and BBDO searched within themselves and their society to see what cause would strike a universal cord of empathy. They found with everyone they talked to that there was a shared sense of discontent and guilt regarding the division of household chores between husbands and wives. And by identifying that empathy for the unbalanced workload that India’s mothers, daughters, wives, and sisters have to bear, Ariel was able to commit to fighting for equality within their consumers’ homes, rather than creating a mere communications campaign.
“Create Acts Not Ads”
Similarly, the panelists warned that when brands choose to take on a social cause in their advertising, it must go beyond just selling their products. Brands must identify a key insight that connects their product to their consumers in a meaningful, authentic way. For Lexus’s “Inside Out” campaign, Lexus identified that coming out as gay or bisexual means moving forward into uncharted territory, exactly what Lexus encourages consumers to do in their vehicles. By recognizing this synergy, Lexus was able to make their brand stand for more than just their products and allowed consumers to take action based on their ads.
“See Yourself Reflected as You Truly Are”
Amy Law took on social good advertising for one of the biggest brands out there: America. The #SeeHer campaign for the White House and the Association of National Advertisers encourages the advertising industry to cast more diverse women in their commercials because as President Obama so wisely stated, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” #SeeHer encourages brands to allow women to be represented in advertising as they truly are, no matter their skin color, body shape, or background. This campaign shows us that not every campaign that achieves social good needs to have an expressly social good focus. Instead, brands can do their part to advance social causes by making diverse casting decisions, choosing not to play into damaging stereotypes, and connecting with consumers at a level that inspires them to take action.
We can’t wait to see what next year’s 3% Conference hold. Did you attend the conference or our panel? Let us know what you thought in the comments!