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Using creative to capture hearts, create fans and drive change

In case you haven’t noticed, we are bombarded by advertising. So how can brands connect and break through the noise? Be authentic and use emotion. Yes, fresh design and a catchy tagline play a role, but if an ad tugs at our heartstrings or makes us do a spit take, that’s when a real connection and behavior change can happen.

Creative brings smart strategy to life

Strategy is great, but it’s useless without good creative bridging the gap and forging connections to your audience. Creative backed by sound strategy is the X-factor that drives behavior change.

Think back to some of the most iconic ads you’ve seen. Chances are, they made you feel something: joy, nostalgia, empathy or even anger. These ads didn’t just sell products or services; they created connections to the brand. They tapped into our wants, fears and aspirations, going from merely transactional to emotional by speaking to us on a human level.

One of the most potent emotions harnessed by creative ads is empathy. When your brand resonates with your audience’s experiences or struggles, they feel understood and validated. CCF has a long history of using empathy to create behavior change. Take our “It’s OK to change your mind” campaign for the Minnesota Department of Health promoting the COVID-19 vaccine. Our research found that people were open to reconsidering their stance on getting the vaccine, they just didn’t want to be made to feel stupid or judged. Backed by good strategy, we were able to tap into raw emotion with real people throughout Minnesota who were initially against getting the COVID-19 vaccine. (I dare you to watch Big Dave’s story below and not get a little choked up). Each of them told their stories about what made them change their mind—and it really resonated. Our campaign helped triple the amount of vaccine doses administered and pushed Minnesota over the 70% line.

But it doesn’t have to be just about warm fuzzies and tear-jerking moments. Humor plays a pivotal role in making connections. When your brand can get a laugh, it becomes more than just a faceless entity peddling goods—it becomes a friend. Humorous ads don’t just entertain us, they endear your brand to us. And that can make us even more likely to choose it over competitors and drive loyalty.

Case in point, CCF’s UnitedHealthcare Student Resources campaign. Through relatable scenarios and humor, we connected with college students to help them figure out where to go to get care when they are sick. (They were going to the E.R. when more convenient and less expensive options were available). But rather than lecture, CCF spoke to them on their terms and top-offending universities saw a 17% reduction in E.R. visits.

Is your brand looking to inspire behavior change? Try tapping into emotion. And remember, it’s not just about selling products, it’s about telling stories and evoking feelings. If your brand is in need of making a connection and becoming part of your audience’s life, we’d love to tell your story.

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