The Ad Council: Why Does It Take a Disaster to Bring Us Together?


Campaign Summary

In support of the Ad Council's Love Has No Labels (LHNL) campaign, which promotes acceptance across race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion and ability, the Ad Council created a two-part web docu-series to get more people to consider taking inclusive actions.


Objective and Context:

We are living in divisive times. Bias and discrimination are some of the most pressing issues facing our nation today. Hate crimes are on the rise and many groups feel increasingly marginalized and unsafe.

Nevertheless, most Americans believe in equality, consider themselves to be unprejudiced, and recognize there are things they can do to create a more inclusive world.

Most people don't see themselves as part of the problem, which raised the question: How could the Ad Council get people to recognize their implicit bias and actively come together to live inclusively?

In support of the Ad Council's Love Has No Labels (LHNL) campaign, which promotes acceptance across race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and ability, the organization needed to get more people to consider taking inclusive actions.

Success was determined by the overall reach of its message and clicks to the LHNL website, where people could learn more about inclusive actions.

Target Audience:

Throughout the campaign the Ad Council employed a variety of specific targeting strategies, including geographic relevancy as well as targeting those who were already actively engaging with influencer Jay Shetty's content. Broadly speaking, the Love Has No Labels campaign targeted adults over the age of 18, who are socially "in the middle." This includes those that say they believe in diversity and inclusion, but they don't realize they undermine it through their own complacency.

Creative Strategy:

Through qualitative research the Ad Council discovered that disasters are a key cultural moment when people come together and forget their biases. Such moments of togetherness show that we all have an inherent desire for inclusion and connection, but bias and social norms prevent us from acting this way day-to-day.
To inspire people to act more inclusively, the idea was to create a two-part web docu-series highlighting what we can learn from those who have survived a disaster. The videos led with a poignant question: why does it take a disaster to bring us together?

Mobile was crucial to the distribution strategy for two reasons:

  • 85 percent of internet users watch video on their devices every month, according to Statista.
  • Insights revealed that one in two people choose to share things on social when they can potentially change the opinions of others or encourage actions, according to the New York Times.

To drive further reach, the Ad Council distributed content via LHNL digital channels and Great Big Story, CNN's cinematic storytelling studio specializing in micro-documentaries and short films.


Overall Campaign Execution:

Developed in partnership with the Facebook Creative Shop and introduced by award-winning storyteller and influencer Jay Shetty, the Ad Council created two films connected by a common message of acceptance.

Love Rises in Houston featured Munira and Sara, a Muslim woman and a Jewish woman, who put their religious differences aside in the wake of Hurricane Harvey to rebuild their community.

In Love Rises in Orlando, Orlando-based Reverend Terri Pierce (a gay woman) and Dr. Joel Hunter (a straight man) connected in the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting to reconsider their biases.

The organization launched the films with an omnichannel digital distribution strategy, seeding content across Love Has No Labels; Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter channels were optimized for mobile. Shetty shared on his channels too.

To drive reach, the Ad Council also placed the films on Great Big Story's app, in the company's e-newsletter, and on Apple News.

Mobile Execution:

The Ad Council knew that people consume content 41 percent faster on mobile news feeds than on desktop and recall content at a significantly higher rates, according to Facebook. Therefore, working with Facebook’s in-house Creative Shop, it optimized its videos to drive maximum engagement on mobile Facebook and Instagram.

Optimization tactics included:

  • Front-loading films to include its branding and key message in the first few seconds.
  • Testing different intros and re-cutting films based on which performed best. For the Houston film, for example, the Ad Council filmed four different motivational intros from Shetty.
  • Ensuring videos worked with sound off and sound on. While is it now commonplace to add subtitles so videos can be understood with sound off, 60 percent of global Instagram Stories are actually viewed with sound on.
  • Creating several cuts of the videos to work in vertical formats perfect for Insta Stories, and more traditional landscape modes.

To drive views of its films, the Ad Council focused on pushing content to mobile news feeds, and targeted lookalike audiences similar to Love Has No Labels fans and Shetty fans. It triggered additional views in Orlando, geo-targeting people aged over 18 who were visiting areas close to where its story took place.

Results (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

The Ad Council's social videos reached 10.2 million people and were watched six million times in total. Videos on Facebook drove 209,000 visits to the Love Has No Labels website, including 187,000 unique users.

Videos exceeded numerous organization benchmarks, including results rate, cost per conversion, and video completion rate. CTR on its supporting conversion ads, which drove traffic to the LHNL website, was 2.74 percent, significantly higher than the Ad Council benchmark of 1.31 percent. Cost per conversion was $0.97, significantly lower than the Ad Council benchmark of $4.79. CTR for its video view ads was 0.81 percent, 16 times higher than its benchmark of 0.05 percent.

One in five Americans (21 percent) said they were aware of at least one of the docu-series assets.

The online videos pushed LHNL's message to audiences on the go via their mobile devices as well. Overall awareness of LHNL increased by 3 percent, with huge jumps among key audiences such as 18–24s (increased by 16 percent) and among the over 65s (up 12 percent). Awareness also increased among 25–34s (7 percent), 45–54s (4 percent), and 55–64s (3 percent).

Categories: Social Impact/Not For Profit | Industries: Nonprofits & Government | Objectives: Social Impact/Not For Profit | Awards: X Bronze Winner