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The Age of Emotional Resonance: The New Creative Leap

By Pascal Beucler, SVP & Chief Strategy Officer, MSLGROUP

The choice of winners at major festivals in 2016 confirmed that ‘emotion’ is climbing up the ladder of priorities for successfully engaging with people, and it is certainly here to stay.

The ingredients for success seem certainly constant: a strong idea, anchored in a sharp insight, with a holistic creative execution, delivering tangible results – irrespective of whether it is for boosting sales or for strengthening a firm’s reputation. In many ways, emotion is no longer a mere ingredient, it has become the recipe itself. Beyond and above a  creative choice, shape, or angle, emotional resonance is what’s actually moving people. And that’s what matters, results wise: as we all know, the analytical bend leads to conclusions; the emotional response leads to decisions.

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Virtual reality – real emotion, proven effectiveness: the strength of the immersive experience 

Whether sensorimotor, cognitive, spatial, psychological, sensory, used for a consumer marketing project, for employee engagement or for an experiential event, immersive technologies are everywhere. Here are two inspiring – and largely awarded – examples:

Beat The Street by Samsung Netherlands and Veilig Verkeer Nederland – Cheil Amsterdam and HvdM

Many children or teenagers, pedestrians or cyclists, are victims of traffic accidents, often due to inability to properly identify and evaluate the risks incurred, for lack of previous real-life experience. Samsung and the Dutch Association of Traffic (VVN) have developed the Gear VR game ‘Beat The Street’: an immersive experience of the dangers of traffic in virtual mode, with a very high emotional charge, which profoundly modifies attitudes and behaviors in real life.

Face Your Fear by Samsung and Wenderfalck

Here’s what Samsung did: through the power of virtual reality, with an entirely immersive VR app, Samsung helped arachnophobes to overcome their fear (or: the healing of Ron Weasley). This is based on a scientifically substantiated statement: the more you are confronted with what terrorizes you, even virtually (the brain does not make the difference), the better you manage to master your reactions. And the experiment worked, with a 50% increase in the download rate of the application.

Data – strategic and creative breeding ground: the art of touching narrative is first and foremost a science of reality in motion 

A while ago, there was a real surge in data-driven ideas, with a series of award-winning projects, because the insight and idea came not shooting in the dark, but from dives in deep statistical waters. This creates a credibility appreciated by our clients, at a time when the merits each dollar invests is carefully weighed.

Here are two very different examples:

Love at First Taste by Unilever / Knorr #CoupdeFood and Edelman, Mullen Lowe, PhD Media Planning, Mindshare Media Buying and Joule

Like so many other brands today, Knorr seeks to create the conditions for a fruitful connection and conversation with distant, or indifferent Millennials. This, around the taste of good things, and food. Extensive research shows that a shared taste for the same kind of flavors/food is the basis of a relational and emotional compatibility, as well as affinity. A sharp insight that became a powerful idea: to organize “Blind dates” around the discovery and sharing of flavors between potential suiters. The whole thing is filmed and the creation of a Flavour Profiler online makes it possible to find the ideal organoleptic type and then to share it. A #coupdefood that becomes a huge success in terms of audience, product image and brand relationship.

The Next Rembrandt by ING and JWT

The massive use of big analytical data on dozens of existing works of Rembrandt made it possible to model, with amazing precision and “truth”, the art of the portrait as the teacher of the Dutch School has magnified it. From this in-depth analysis, the 360 ° digital intelligence deduces the style and gives it life thanks to a 3D high-fly printing. A new Rembrandt was born nearly 350 years after the painter’s death. The emotion of the audience at the moment of the revelation is palpable. Beyond that, the value of innovation (ING claims to be one of the most digital banks in the world) and of citizen engagement (Purpose + Citizenship) strengthened the pairing. And on top of that, this masterful digital demonstration also opens promising perspectives for the cost-competitive restoration of damaged works.  

Crowdsourcing & User Generated Content – it changes everything, when the audience is “in”

Crowdsourcing, co-creation, user-generated content, all forms of collaborative generation and “native content” flourish and thrive in many projects, regardless of categories, domains, subjects. This is a fundamental, massive evolution, which has not ceased to affect our organizations, our methods, our ways of thinking; citizen journalism has opened the path, marketing and communications turn it into a very large avenue. And the revolution of digital platforms amplifies its resonance each day. The examples are legion but the campaign which obtained the special prize of the jury in Berlin summarizes all of them:

Keys of Hope by Caritas International / Deutsche Caritasverband – Ketchum Pleon and BBDO

Once again, everything starts from a deeply emotional insight: refugees fleeing wars and probable death leave everything behind, out of sheer helplessness. Everything but the key to their homes, the living symbol of their hope of return, one day. From this insight naturally follows the idea of the campaign: to tell ten genuinely true, poignant, overwhelming stories, and above all to let the refugees tell them it themselves, with their keys in their hands. They recount their stories in front of a camera, and not as part of an anonymous voice in the distance. Their words and voices, ones that the mainstream media might ignore or manipulate, are given a platform. They are no longer figures, masses, threats; they are human beings, victims, people like us, fragile destinies whose tragic character evokes empathy. And in a Germany where, as elsewhere in Europe, the public debate on the subject is virulent, we see the lines move, opinion polls reverse, thanks to a campaign 100% full of emotion but never miserable, or becoming a caricature.

We must conclude: our industry is at a turning point, and all options are open – the least tempting and the most exciting.

The way in which we can create value from the equation of our times: (IQ, EQ + TQ)BQ will largely decide the outcome. This will happen exactly where Intelligence, Emotion & Technology meet, and at the speed of light (“Bloody Quick”). But emotion, without doubt, is the determining factor.

PascalPascal holds BAs in History and Language Sciences, a master’s degree in Linguistics and a post graduate degree in Semio-Linguistics. In 1987 he joined Intelligences, a subsidiary of Publicis, and in 1992 he became the MD. In 1994 he was promoted to Partner at Publicis Consultants, and then to General Manager of Carré Noir in 2001. Pascal is an Associate Professor at CELSA (Paris IV Sorbonne) and a visiting professor at HEC. In 2005 Pascal was named VP of Publicis Consultants | Worldwide, in charge of Brand Strategy and development of its international network. @pbeucler | pascal.beucler@mslgroup.com

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