Love Works in Brand Storytelling

“When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion.” – Dale Carnegie

What do all successful marketing campaigns have in common? Their product isn’t at the center of the message. People make decisions based on how they feel, and when a brand can make people feel good, that’s what will drive them to act.

This proves true in numerous case studies, many of which are highlighted in Brian Sheehan’s book Loveworks. Sheehan was an employee of global communications and advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi for 25 years. As a major player on the team, he experienced firsthand the entire process of developing and executing dozens of successful marketing campaigns for Fortune 500 companies. He shares why these campaigns were so successful in Loveworks and dives into how Saatchi & Saatchi developed the messaging that ultimately increased the bottom line for these companies.

While Saatchi & Saatchi is primarily an advertising agency, many of their advertisements were paired with social media campaigns or events that often resulted in organic media coverage.

So how does a company gather inspiration for a campaign that appeals to consumers’ emotions? It all starts with the consumer. Understanding the consumer’s thoughts, feelings, beliefs and motivations are essential in reaching them emotionally. One of the case studies that Sheehan cites comes from a Miller High Life campaign that aimed to re-engage people relating to the brand. Saatchi & Saatchi discovered through ethnographic research that Miller High Life drinkers do not like pretentious people or actions, so that “no frills” attitude became the center of their new drive. The biggest success was a Super Bowl commercial that demonstrated High Life was about simplicity. The company knew it would go against the brand values to purchase a $30 million 30-second commercial during game time, so they decided to purchase a one-second commercial timeslot instead to prove they didn’t need to spend big bucks to make an impact. It seems kind of crazy, but the buzz around the commercial before it premiered (a.k.a. the PR behind it) made it an online hit and wildly successful.

While the case studies that Sheehan discussed center around advertising, they all require PR to make them successful. A commercial may be great, but if the public or the media aren’t talking about it, then it wasn’t successful.

Think of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign. This campaign not only changed the way people thought about Dove, it also started a conversation about beauty expectations for women. Their commercials, billboards and videos challenged beauty standards and aimed to send a message to all women that they are naturally beautiful. This campaign sparked a conversation that people are still talking about today. The campaign was successful because it took Dove from just a soap company to a catalyst for change, and that’s what people want to see in the brands they support.

So next time you need to reach an audience, think about what would make you feel something.

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