Trust the power of emotional communication

Last night in the NFL season-opener, the Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman ran in a late touchdown to give the Seahawks victory over the Green Bay Packers.

Nothing especially remarkable in that, you might think.

Except Derrick Coleman is the first legally deaf player in NFL history.

He has overcome his disability to make it to the very top in a brutal, complex sport where communication with coaches and team-mates is paramount in order to execute the correct ‘play’.

Earlier this year, the Seahawks made it to the Superbowl – the biggest prize in American sport.

In the run-up to the Superbowl Coleman was approached by Duracell, who saw him as the perfect star to front their #TrustYourPower campaign:

“They came to me, and said they liked my story, and I said ‘OK’, I want to join up. I just hope to inspire people, especially children, to trust the power within and achieve their dreams.”

The resulting TV spot by Saatchi & Saatchi NY is a fantastic piece of work, in a spine-tingling, lump-in-the-throat, excuse-me-I-think-I’ve-got-something-in-my-eye kinda way:

And of course it did inspire people.

It inspired two young hearing-impaired sisters to write ‘Dear my insperation Derrick Coleman…’, and Coleman wrote back to them.

All credit to Derrick Coleman, for using his celebrity status to build a commercial partnership that generated much more than just a few extra dollars in his pocket.

But credit also to the Duracell marketing team, who had the initiative to follow up on that story and arranged for Coleman to meet the two young girls, then paid for them and their family to attend the Superbowl.

Even though you know exactly what’s going to happen in this news story, it’s still very special to see the look on the girls’ faces when their hero appears:

It’s an even better story when you know that the Seahawks went on to win the Superbowl by a huge 43-8 margin.

In such a low interest, commoditised category as batteries it would be very tempting to produce advertising based on rational product benefits to demonstrate product superiority.

But by thinking bigger and creating a broader communication platform – ‘the power within’ – Duracell were able to transcend the category and generate significantly greater standout and a much more emotional connection as a result.

We already know from Binet & Field’s excellent IPA Databank analysis, Marketing in the Era of Accountability, that in the long term campaigns invoking an emotional response are more likely to generate a greater financial return that rationally based campaigns, but it is still all too rare to see advertisers with the confidence to adopt this approach.

So next time you’re planning a campaign and are thinking of falling back on the rational route, be braver.

Trust the power of emotional communication.

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2 thoughts on “Trust the power of emotional communication

  1. Love this piece Jon – I’m not a fan of American Football so didn’t know anything about Derrick Coleman, what a fantastic role model.

    Plus a great example of advertisers taking a different approach to an age old problem.

    Like

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