Ad Council Brings Competing Brands Together for a Cause

'Love Has No Labels' Explores Implicit Biases

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The Ad Council will unite competing companies this year for a campaign called "Love Has No Labels."

Together, the Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Allstate and State Farm are hoping to start a conversation about prejudice and unconscious biases.

The idea stemmed from a conversation one of Coca-Cola's top marketers, Wendy Clark had last spring with then Ad Council President Peggy Conlon.

"She wanted to see if this is a topic we would want to take on," said Lisa Sherman, the non-profit organization's current president. "As we approached some of our partners it was clear that there was a number of partners interested."

The campaign, from digital shop R/GA, is meant to draw attention to "implicit biases." People will be prompted to examine their own preconceived notions of others. The idea is to jolt those who believe they are not prejudiced.

"Implicit bias refers to the way people unconsciously and sometimes unwillingly exhibit bias towards other individuals and groups," said Rachel Godsil, co-founder and director of research at the Perception Institute in a statement. "The good news is that once we are aware of our biases, we can begin to take action to reduce the effects they can have on our behavior and ultimately, to reduce the biases themselves."

Lisa Sherman
Lisa Sherman

The Ad Council -- whose public service announcement legacy includes well-known slogans like "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires," "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste" and "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk" -- has historically worked on a single issue with just one organization at a time. With this new program it will be collaborating with eight non-profit organizations, each representing a class that is discriminated against.

Those who visit www.LoveHasNoLabels.com can take an online quiz to evaluate their own level of prejudice. Then, they will be prompted to help the Anti-Defamation League, Southern Poverty Law Center, National Women's Law Center, Human Rights Campaign, American Association of People with Disabilities, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Muslim Advocates or AARP.

"It's timely," said R/GA Global Chief Creative Officer Nick Law. "There's lots of stuff happening. Not just domestically but globally."

The campaign will be seeded on social media platforms by the brands and non-profit partners involved, with each expected to temporarily replace its profile image with the official campaign logo designed by Mr. Law.

The simplicity of the design speaks to the overall message. "One of the original creative ideas was using the product and taking the labels off … this idea of taking away superficial labels or superficial impressions. This idea of the absence of something," Mr. Law said. "To take brands that in business compete but are all dedicated to specific values."

A TV spot will be produced at a live installation in Los Angeles on Valentine's Day and will air in March. There will be additional support from print, as well as significant pushes on digital and social media platforms -- which factored into the Ad Council's agency selection.

"Engaging communities of people felt very important to our strategy," said Ms. Sherman. "R/GA was a great creative and strategic partner -- it thinks holistically but is very digitally-centric."

Though there are some natural time periods throughout the year where it will make sense to promote the effort -- like LGBT Pride Month -- the hope, according to Ms. Sherman, is to create an evergreen campaign. "The creative and the idea have the makings of creating a social movement that will bring people together," she said.

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