On Our Way

Four years ago, we made the decision to invest in creative, planning and paid media specialists to help complement the skill sets of our corporate and classic public relations experts. We have hired over five hundred people who have skills outside of traditional PR and have asked them to come up with campaigns that are earned at the core, social by design. Our aim is to become the lead creative partner for our clients when the product or the situation calls for work that is tied to purpose, takes up an issue of the day and can begin a movement. I want to bring to your attention three pieces of work, one from the U.S., one from the UK and one from Sweden, which meet this standard.

For the KIND Foundation, established by KIND Snacks in the U.S., our Edible team recognized the growing polarization of the citizenry into their own bubbles. People are reading only what they agreed with and interacting only with friends in social media who had similar views. Working off the notion of making the world a little kinder one act at a time, Edible teamed with the Foundation to create Pop Your Bubble, a unique Facebook tool that makes it easy for any American to add diverse points of view into their newsfeeds. This algorithm allows you to find new friends from different parts of the country, different walks of life and with divergent attitudes. Thus far, the campaign has been endorsed in social channels by such influencers as Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra and Guy Kawasaki. Pop Your Bubble has been accessed by more than 80,000 people and has created more than 45,000 connections on Facebook between strangers.

For Adidas in Sweden, our Edelman Deportivo team came up with the #InYourName campaign to help launch the new women’s national team jersey. Despite it being one of the best female teams in the world, very few Swedes could name any of its players. Enthusiasm for the team was lacking causing half of all the young girls playing football to contemplate quitting by age 14. Our strategic approach was to spark a feeling of inspiration among them. So we swapped the usual names on the back of the jerseys for empowering messages from women who refuse to back down, chosen by the players themselves. One example is “Believe in your damn self” from @zaralarsson. We premiered the jerseys in front of the world at the Algarve cup in Portugal. The jerseys sold out at retail, for the first time ever, and the campaign generated over 1 billion media impressions.

For Heineken in the UK, our Brand practice, working alongside Publicis Advertising, developed Open Your World, which aims to bring value to the brand positioning of openness. As part of this multilayered effort we helped create the Worlds Apart film to challenge stereotypes in present discourse; formed a partnership with Human Library, a non-profit that records conversations to become a “human book” of extraordinary stories; and commissioned a research paper from Goldsmiths, a think tank, to validate the notion of finding common ground. The film became a deeply discussed topic on social media, with 13 million views on YouTube and Facebook. Of the ensuing 500-plus articles, 88 percent had a positive sentiment. And the media results have been stunning: more than 3 billion impressions and 24,000 engagements.

According to the global chair of our Brand practice, Mark Renshaw, who recently joined us after 20 years at Leo Burnett, a breakthrough program needs to understand brand purpose, then have an idea that is unique to the brand. “We should aim for work that is unstoppable, that creates its own momentum, is powerful enough to change culture, to build reputation and define debate,” Mark notes. “It is work that can thrive on multiple platforms and break boundaries.”

Richard Edelman is president and CEO.