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Purpose of Purpose Series: Interview with the chairs of the Ad Council's Campaign Review Committees

Published on .

Credit: The Ad Council

The Ad Council's Campaign Review Committee chairs weigh in on maintaining the non-profit's standard of excellence to promote social change.

What's your favorite part about leading the Ad Council's Campaign Review Committee (CRC)?

Susan Credle: My favorite part about chairing a CRC is being able to work with colleagues I respect. Curating a group of diverse people who graciously give their time and talent to other agencies is very rewarding. I also learn so much from seeing how different agencies present and solve problems creatively.

Cindy Gallop: Getting to see how a vast range of agencies across the U.S. think, operate and present—something very few people in our industry experience.

Margaret Johnson: My favorite part about working on the CRC is that the work the Ad Council champions the most involves important issues that need to be fixed, often in the most innovative ways possible. I was honored especially to be part of the "I Am a Witness" campaign, which resulted in the first emoji for a social cause. I also loved "Talk, Read, and Sing Together Every Day," which our agency created. I'm really encouraged by what's going on in the industry—we're seeing some fundamental changes happening that are bringing the focus back to creativity and great ideas.

Rob Reilly: Having the chance to work with creatives as a pure consultant versus as a boss. You can really focus on how to improve an idea, as opposed to all the other factors that you need to manage when dealing with one of your own brands.

What works best when you're creating PSAs/social marketing? Is it the same as with brand marketing?

Susan Credle: More and more companies are seeing corporate responsibility/social-good campaigns become an imperative, as people look for brands to play a more meaningful role in the world. We have definitely seen a lot of corporate brands creating fantastic social-good campaigns these last few years. The challenge for corporate brands is finding authentic causes that they truly invest in over time. Whereas nonprofits are, by definition, committed 100 percent to the cause.

Many times, when we are working on brand campaigns, the focus is on awareness and building brand equity over time. When we are looking at work at a CRC, most often we are seeking immediate action. Therefore, the question "what are we asking people to do?" often comes up in reviews. And it is important that in the work there is a call-to-action.

Cindy Gallop: Exactly the same thing that works best when you're creating brand marketing: understanding and creatively activating the emotional triggers that will make people change their attitudes and behavior.

Margaret Johnson: Recently, we've been talking a lot about "mass intimacy," which is the notion of talking to a large number of people but making the conversation feel very personal. What this gets down to is that great advertising, regardless of whether it's a PSA or an ad for packaged goods, needs to make you feel something inside.

Many of the social-good campaigns my teams created at GS&P were for major brands, reinforcing the thirst of many brands to do good with their advertising. You always have more freedom to be controversial when a corporation isn't involved, but the Tostitos "Breathalyzer Bag," which detected alcohol on consumers' breath on Super Bowl Sunday and "No Choice" Doritos, which encouraged millennials to register to vote are two great examples of this not being the norm.

Rob Reilly: The process should be the same. In fact, the rigor when it comes to the strategy is probably even more important. By that I mean, getting everybody on board with the strategic POV before any work is created usually results in the best creative work.

What's the most exciting trend/opportunity that marketers leading with purpose should be thinking about?

Susan Credle: Purpose is the soul of a business or a company. That soul comes to life through building and maintaining the brand. Marketers who not only know, but also absolutely believe the purpose of their company will make better decisions with more agility. Authentic purpose gives a company a tremendous edge on the competition. The strongest companies have always had purpose. Decades ago, companies lived by the adage, "Get caught doing something good." The opportunity today is that they can outwardly and openly do good in this world. Today, people support companies they believe are not just making a good product, but are also making a difference.

Cindy Gallop: The future of business is about doing good and making money simultaneously. It's not a trade-off. "Leading with purpose" doesn't mean profits falling behind. It's about integrating social responsibility into the way you do business on a day-to-day basis, that therefore makes it a key driver of future growth and profitability. The future belongs to marketers who execute that integration so effectively that the more good your brand does, the more money it makes, and the more money it makes, the more good it does.

Rob Reilly: I've been saying for years that purpose-lead marketing is real marketing. That's because people accept brands in their lives more than ever before. But people now expect a lot more from brands. So you better be innovative, transparent, value-focused, environmentally conscious and just doing the right thing in general.

What's your favorite PSA ever?

Susan Credle: My favorite Ad Council ad of all time is from the '70s. The Native American who cries when a family throws a fast-food bag of trash out the window of a car. I saw it when I was a little girl and, even today, I cannot abide as much as the paper cover of a straw dropping from my hand—an effective piece of communication that is still working 40 years later.

Rob Reilly: Set up: Dad confronts son in son's bedroom about smoking dope. Father: "Who taught you how to do this?" Son: "You! I learned it from watching you." I think that is the copy, or the general idea. Super powerful. And we parodied it for Kraft Mac & Cheese a few years back, so it has always stuck in my head, I suppose.

Cindy Gallop: I'm biased, but it's one my CRC oversees: the fantastic 2017 campaign McKinney created for "Finish Your Diploma" high school equivalency. I love the tremendously motivating emotional power of demonstrating how it's everyone around you that provides the support structure to help you graduate—and they're why you do it. I also love the authenticity—the people, the stories, the surprise parties are real. I cried when I first saw the commercials—and they've been very effective in sending people to FinishYourDiploma.org and in increasing the number of adults who agree getting a GED or equivalency is important, and who search for information on how to do so, which is wonderful, because that is the path to a better life for so many Americans and their families.

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The Ad Council brings together the most creative minds in advertising and media to address the most worthy causes. Its innovative, pro bono social good campaigns raise awareness. They inspire action. They save lives. To learn more, visit AdCouncil.org, follow the Ad Council’s communities on Facebook and Twitter, and view the creative on YouTube.
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