League works with R/GA and The Ad Council, joins other brands promoting diversity and inclusion
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Published on February 14, 2017 by Alexandra Bruell
The National Football League is partnering with creative agency R/GA and The Ad Council — a non-profit that helps make public service announcements — to create the latest version of the “Love has no Labels” ad, which celebrates diversity and inclusion.
The ad follows a “kiss cam” that roves around the stadium at the Orlando Pro Bowl game in January. At first, a heart motif captures a man and woman, but then the it readjusts to center in on the man kissing his husband. The kiss cam also features a mixed race couple, two boys with down syndrome, a woman in a wheelchair with her husband and a gay couple — one of the women featured is a survivor of last year’s deadly shooting at a nightclub in Orlando.
The NFL joins other brands that have lately looked to strike a feel-good note with messages inclusion and diversity. Airbnb and Coca-cola ran Super Bowl spots that featured the faces of people from different backgrounds, for example.While the brands aren’t aiming to be political, messages of inclusion have been seen by some viewers as political statements at a moment of deep national divisions.
“The message is not political, it’s apolitical,” said Eric Jannon, an executive creative director at R/GA, adding that the campaign was more than a year in the making. “We’ll keep embracing diversity regardless of what’s going on in the White House.”
“I do believe that releasing this piece of film at this moment in time will be incredibly powerful,” said Ad Council CEO and President Lisa Sherman. She is hoping that all the people “looking for images and messages of coming together” will boost the latest version of the campaign.
While the NFL’s brand isn’t featured in the spot, it centers on professional football imagery and is a chance for the league to burnish its image after a string of controversies, including rising concerns over concussions, the “deflategate” legal saga, and the recent refusal by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other players to stand during the National Anthem in protest of police brutality.
The first Love Has No Labels campaign from 2015 showed the skeletons of people behind a screen kissing and embracing. Coming out from behind the screen were interracial and gay couples, among others. “Love is love,” said one of the people featured in the ad.
“We noticed that [the iconic kiss cam] was often focused on traditional notions of love. We thought, what if we could showcase a more modern take?” said Chris Northam, another executive creative director at R/GA who worked on the spot. “We hope it does cause conversation and, more than anything else, that the fans embrace this message and help spread this movement.”
A number of brand sponsors are funding the campaign, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, State Farm, Bank of America, Google, Johnson & Johnson and Wells Fargo. The ad, which will appear on various social and TV channels, will not show any brands, per Ad Council rules.
NFL Chief Marketing Officer Dawn Hudson is on the board of both the Ad Council and R/GA parent Interpublic Group of Cos.