Today, Valentine’s Day 2018, marks the 3-year anniversary of our Love Has No Labels campaign. It’s been an unbelievable experience to be a part of this game-changing movement—one that’s made a difference in the lives of so many.
And it’s hard to believe everything that’s happened since R/GA first introduced the dancing skeletons to the world.
The campaign videos have garnered more than 345 million views – and one even became the first social good ad to receive the Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial.
Top brands like Bank of America, The Coca-Cola Company, Google, PepsiCo, P&G, Unilever, State Farm®, Wells Fargo, Google and Johnson & Johnson, have come on as our activation partners, extending our Love Has No Labels content across their social channels and conducting their own events to engage their employees and audiences.
But most important is the impact the campaign has had. Although our country may seem more divided than ever, the Love Has No Labels message of diversity and inclusion has brought people together – empowering them to rethink their unconscious bias and bask in our common humanity.
Thanks to the brilliant team at R/GA for creating the idea and our friends at Upworthy for launching the content, we’d found a way to tap into the cultural zeitgeist and learned just how hungry audiences were for content that could bring us together. The reaction was exhilarating, shocking, and inspiring, and left us wondering…where do we go from here?
1. When it’s time to iterate, identify your core concept and be consistent
We’ve all been there—you have a success, pause for a moment to celebrate—and then you have to figure out what’s next. Once an audience is hooked, you can’t leave them hanging. By how do you replicate lightening in a bottle?
For us, step one was identifying the core concept for the campaign. Love Has No Labels did, and continues to, highlight implicit bias by defying the audience’s assumptions. The element of surprise was critical, but the tone had to be carefully threaded–we couldn’t wave a finger and condemn people or we would lose them.
So, in each piece of content we’ve released since then, we aim to inspire people and to continue to get them to the point of self-discovery where they question their own assumptions. We also found other elements that worked – like featuring real, emotionally-driven stories and people.
2. Once you’ve rallied the base, find ways to expand your circle
At this point, there’s no denying the existence of bubbles in America. And with this campaign, it would have been all too easy to stay within our own echo chamber. We’d get nothing but positive feedback and accolades, but wouldn’t have accomplish much.
So for our first follow-up piece, R/GA created a direct-to-camera monologue about what it means to be patriotic today. We know that the messenger is critical when it comes to making a point that sticks, so when it came to casting a spokesperson, a lot of big names were tossed around, people who were gay, or non-Caucasian or had a disability.
But R/GA was brilliant in suggesting that we enlist WWE Superstar and iconic tough-guy John Cena. Having our campaign appear as an authentic proclamation from a star they identified with allowed us to not only reach, but engage, a new audience in our messaging around bias and diversity.
And this past January, we worked with the NFL on a live event activation at the Pro Bowl in Orlando, capturing real couples, families and friends embracing on the fan/kiss cam to an overwhelmingly warm and welcoming reception from the crowd. The film launched on Valentine’s Day and it has been embraced by audiences, with over 38 million views so far.
3. All boats rise, so get more voices involved
Importantly, our corporate partners, including Bank of America, The Coca-Cola Company, Google, PepsiCo, P&G, Unilever, State Farm®, Wells Fargo, Google and Johnson & Johnson, are not just funders – they’re activation partners.
And thanks to our amazing partners, the campaign has been activated at internal and external events—Pride parades, conferences and festivals — all across the country.
And really, we’re still just getting started. While there’s no one formula for creating and continuing success, these tips help us ensure that we stay on the right path, and sustain that special bit of Love Has No Labels magic that continues to inspire and engage so many.
At the end of the day, it will always come down to authenticity, emotion and a certain cultural relevance. There will always be new stories to tell, there will always be new ways to surprise audiences, there will always be work to be done and, most of all, love will always win.