Love Has No Labels: R/GA & Ad Council


Chris Northam
SVP ECD, Head of Creative R/GA

Eric Jannon
VP Executive Creative Director R/GA

Tell us about your role in the creation of this work.

We created the concept, wrote the script, brought in a screenwriter to help shape it, hired the director and partnered with him to see all aspects of the production through to final delivery. In the TV world it’s a little like being showrunners.

Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about?

During one of the most divisive periods in recent US history, Rising, an 11-minute film, told the story of a Muslim family and their diverse neighbors coming together to survive rising floodwaters and bias in America. The film asked: “Why does it take a disaster to bring us together?”

Designed to live outside social echo chambers, Rising was quickly picked up by entertainment platforms Showtime, Amazon Prime Video, and The CW, reaching a whole new audience previously not exposed to the brand.

An online docu-series featuring diverse people who helped each other survive natural disasters aims to answer the question asked in the film.

Tell us about the details creative brief, what did it ask? Which insight led to the creation of this piece of work?

In 2015, the Ad Council and R/GA created the brand Love Has No Labels to erode implicit bias through the promotion of diversity & inclusion. The aim was to make different representations of love famous in culture in an effort to normalize them and de-emphasize labels. The combined 3 campaigns became the number 1 most viral PSA campaign in history igniting conversation.

This year’s new campaign faced an even more divided America. Different races, religions, genders were more under siege than ever. Many political and social commentators asking “what will it take to bring this country together?”       

After tons of research and interviews of people who experienced recent catastrophes in the US an insight emerged - in life threatening scenarios such as flood, earthquake or fire, most people forget their differences and don’t hesitate to help each other out.

Can you share with us any alternative ideas (if any) for this campaign? Why was this idea chosen?

We picked this campaign for its timeliness. We chose a hurricane scenario based on real events to help viewers identify with the characters, despite any feelings of implicit bias. The story reveals our common humanity and capacity to act inclusively every day.

What was the greatest challenge that you and your team faced during development?

While recreating the storm and capturing the authentic emotional performances was a huge challenge maybe the biggest was creating it all in the hope that it would be picked up by entertainment platforms. None of this was guaranteed but was in many ways core to the whole campaign approach. It was very much a calculated risk. The fact that it ran as programming on these platforms is testament to the beautiful work of all the collaborators that poured their heart and soul into this project.

What did you enjoy most about seeing this campaign through? Did you learn anything new from the experience?

Seeing it run on Showtime was pretty great. But seeing the reactions from people and reading the comments that it emotionally has struck a chord is pretty special.

Where do you see this campaign going in the future?

We don’t know where it goes next but we do know it needs to keep showing up in different ways and surprising viewers with the same message of hope and love.