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The future of digital advertising is personal

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Everyone loves chips. This may be one of the few things that most people can agree on.

But Doritos is showing us the real power of a chip is to help us better love and understand each other. This beautiful film launched in Mexico just before the holidays tells a story about a father figuring out how to let his gay son know that he is loved. It turned the Twittersphere into mush, garnering shares, praise and declarations of loyalty to Doritos.

While this was made for Mexico, the two-minute film was also made with English subtitles for a global audience. It shines a light on an important, human story. It prioritizes humanity over usage occasions and RTBs. It stands up against prejudice.

Today relevance is becoming less about what a brand says about a particular consumer and more about how a brand serves to uplift and unite people. This isn’t about tropes. Or cliches. Or Instagram word art. This is about uniting people through shared, human stories that represent an insight that makes us see ourselves and others in a new, more relatable way. It’s not salesy or opportunistic. It is respectful and artful. The caliber of this story and the craft with which it was executed reinforces the message. It stands out from a digital world that seems to be going more TikTok than cinematic.

And so, as we all seek to move forward in what feels like a new era, I ask brands to consider the power they have to unite culture in a way that policy can only dream about.

Let’s do more of this for brands by finding ways to bring people together through our work by embracing authentic storytelling elements...

Embrace the grey

Great stories embrace the complexity and grey of human nature. We can feel this father grappling with his own emotions around his son’s identity. It doesn’t dilute the heft of this struggle. All parents can relate to the challenge of understanding their children. It’s not always easy. At times you have to work hard to be the person that your children deserve. Conveying this turmoil makes this story much more engaging. To craft great stories, we can’t gloss over the emotional truth.

Deliver epiphanies

The best stories surprise us with a perspective we didn’t know we already had. As storytellers, we have to play to the nuance and vulnerability of real people. This leads to the kind of stories that get shared, re-posted and remembered. It takes bravery to show people who aren’t always perfectly aspirational. It can also be funny. I am sure most of us have gotten laughs out of the Progressive Parentology mockumentary-style campaign. This campaign features Dr. Rick who counsels people out of accidentally becoming their parents. It hilariously unpacks those behaviors that we are annoyed with and also becoming. Most importantly Progressive proves it “gets” us and isn’t afraid to poke fun at something we all laugh about.

Create heart space

Let’s focus on earning brands a new space in hearts, deeper than reasons to believe or usage occasions. Some might question the Doritos film. What is the role of the brand? Where’s the product? Will Doritos even get credit for this? These questions miss the point. When you engage with people emotionally, they engage back. It’s not transactional. It is something we want to watch and share. It makes our brand central to an important conversation. So many brands say they are “inclusive” but how many are demonstrating that in the work? Not enough. As brand builders, one of the greatest gifts of digital channels is the ability to create long-form content to convey cinematic stories.

Let’s not shirk our ability to use our craft to uplift and unite people. Finding the right thing to do isn’t always obvious, but it’s important. We’ve seen the work that takes a stand is the most engaging.

Finding a nuanced way to bring people together is worth doing. It can be magnified by making a long-term commitment to the work and the effort. This Doritos campaign is kicking off a full-year commitment to the LBGTQ+ community. Pride is bigger than a month to Doritos. This kind of commitment ignites passion in the brand’s social channels and beyond.

Let’s do more for the better in 2021 and beyond. There’s actually nothing stopping us.

Angela Jones, SVP, head of strategy, Laundry Service

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