Whether it’s a handshake, a hug or a "hello!", direct personal contact is a significant part of our social make-up, we are naturally attuned to interaction between one another.
This comes across loud and clear when we look at brain activity during moments of physical closeness, or seeing two other people interact. These moments elicit activity in part of the brain associated with personal relevance, and this in turn helps to drive strong memory encoding.
Given the power of human connections, it’s no surprise that this year’s winning Creative Effectiveness Lions all display an array of strategies that tap into our need to connect.
Physical, personal interaction may be most powerful, but the mere sight of an interaction between characters on screen (for instance in a TV ad) has also been shown to correlate with stronger brain response. That in turn maximises the chance of audiences acting on the messages they’ve seen or heard, which is the chief measure of effective advertising.
Of the biggest winners in the category, each ad shows how effective use of personal interaction in creative messaging can be successful across a variety of media.
Three campaigns stand out for their depiction of interactions between characters or people:
Share the load
The campaign itself promotes greater interaction between men and women by fostering an equal share of household chores. This closer interaction is illustrated in the leading video, which is not only focussed on a very personal narration of an apologetic letter, written from father to daughter, but ends with the father returning home to do the laundry with his wife.
Man on the moon
The video focuses on a very personal interaction between two characters (a little girl on earth and the man on the moon), their relationship paradoxically made even more tangible because of the distance between them.
These two ads aren’t just about interaction, but about bringing two people closer together, and this is what makes them particularly powerful.
The trick both brands pulled off was to make their brand or product convincingly integral to the emotional message they conveyed. The powerful combination of branding and emotion, made more impactful by the human interaction, is a winning combination for effectiveness.
Man boobs for boobs
Although the success of this campaign primarily results from the clever use of a social media ban to create even more awareness around breast cancer, there is also a depiction of a very (!) close interaction between two people, and this is almost certainly contributing to the impact of the video itself.
Promoting physical and virtual interactions:
There were three winning campaigns which combined the physical and virtual worlds to bring people together and in touch with a stimulating experience.
Van Gogh's bedroom
This incited people to come spend the night in Van Gogh’s (re-created) bedroom. A personal experience for some, the stunt was designed to bring people closer to the artist by fully immersing them within the work he produced.
The Swedish number
This campaign did perhaps the best job of literally connecting people, with over 197,000 calls made to random Swedes from all around the world. What better way to learn about a country than straight from the mouth of its inhabitants?
The unfiltered nature of this campaign would be likely to have driven stronger personal connections as a result.
Beauty tips by Reshma
We all know how effective social media can be at prompting action, and the campaign by Make Love Not Scars also prompted virtual interaction as opposed to simply delivering content. Using the make-up tutorial format engaged viewers to interact with the video themselves, before being asked to sign a petition calling for an end to the free sale of acid in India.
And finally, a hybrid campaign:
The McWhopper proposal
The work harnesses the power of all types of interactions described above. It depicts a close interaction, although the twist is that this is between rival brands, not people.
However, the language and tone of the piece evokes a more personal battle, which the World Peace Day timing enforces. The campaign then prompts people to virtually interact through social media platforms and encourages physical interaction with the brand(s) by encouraging users to create their own McWhopper.
Our brains tend to show an immediate response to interactions because they help us identify with situations. When campaigns, such as the ones discussed here, display those interactions between highly relatable characters (including brands) or else encourage us to become participants – not just viewers – they take things a step further.
The upshot is a reinforced bond between each other as people, and the brand or cause behind the experiences we share. For advertisers of all kinds, that’s a powerful outcome.
Heather Andrew is the UK CEO Neuro-Insight.