Libby Morse
SVP, Creative Director

Let’s Talk About Feelings

How emotions fuel meaning and audience-to-brand connections

We all know ads should have an emotional impact. So why does so much marketing keep getting in the way of emotion? Why do marketers have to keep proving that they’re cleverer than a direct, unadulterated statement of feeling?

Somehow, an idea has taken hold: people are bombarded with messages, and the only way to get their attention is with a constant stream of novelty—a game or a gimmick or at the very least, some clever wordplay.

Look, I love a clever headline as much as any writer. But my message to you is this: we don’t always need to do that. 

And in fact, it shouldn’t even be our first thought. Because when people are being bombarded with messages, honest emotion feels like a relief. It’s real. It’s human. It connects us at a time when we could all benefit from a sense of being connected.

That’s why I love this ad for Queer Eye.

an ad for queer eye on netflix that reads "I'm not crying, you're crying."

There are probably endless puns and word-plays and visual tricks that the creative team could have defaulted to. Instead, they listened to how their audience is feeling about the show. And they admired and mirrored that emotion right back to them. It’s still funny, fresh, and very much in keeping with the spirit of the show. But it also goes straight to the heart.

Our new campaign for Resurrection University—a venerable Chicago institution specializing in education for nursing and health Sciences—takes a similar tactic. Most campaigns to promote the health professions are focused on one message: Get a great career in healthcare.  They’re attribute-driven. We took a different approach. We pinpointed the emotion that drove our subjects—an emotion that is indisputably universal—and then owned it.

It’s amazing to be needed.

ResU immediately recognized the power of the idea and told us to get into market as soon as possible. Our client shared the belief that being bold today means conveying emotion with a no-holds-barred directness. You don’t need to surround it with a lot of bells and whistles.

Creative from the campaign sized for a billboard and kiosks

The campaign, which features ResU alumni and students, broke June 18, and will have an initial run of eight weeks in Chicago with a second run to follow in the fall.

I had the privilege of interviewing the campaign’s subjects for short videos that will be used on the ResU website and in social media. These current and aspiring nurses were funny and warm and totally dedicated. I felt humbled in the best way. And I came home from shoot-days thinking how lucky we are to have these people in the world.

And that, too, is a powerful emotion.

at the photo/video shoot with ResU students and alums

© Jeff Sciortino

Want to hear more about how your brand can own an emotion? Get started by reading Libby’s recent article about the two types of brands: emotive and obsessive.