Friday, September 21, 2018
  • Friday, May. 18, 2018
Shannon Lords
POV (Perspective)
From Wake-Up Calls To Calls To Action: How The Right Content Leads To More Traction

Let’s face it: with today’s ever-changing and oversaturated media landscape, it’s harder for content creators and brand builders to cut through the noise in a meaningful way. Gone are the days when producing visually-appealing content was enough. In this age of hashtag “slactivism” and “fake news,” our creative community has a responsibility to create impactful work that pushes viewers forward, propelling them to action.

Our production company, Great Bowery Film, has been fortunate to be involved with work that’s meaningful, relatable, and timely. As worldly thinkers (and just straight up decent people), we want to give audiences a sense of purpose in these crazy times. 
 
The [Social] Medium is the Message
Media theorist Marshall McLuhan said it best—the medium is the message. Hard to believe that line came into our lexicon back in 1967 and rings true to this day! But he’s right—how we deliver the message is critical for reach and engagement. 

As a result of the proliferation of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, audiences are increasingly driven by convenience and gratification. At the end of the day, we like it simple (where and how we find content) and satisfying (fulfilling a need). 

Some examples:

  • #MeToo & #TimesUp: Both of these movements reached unprecedented levels of engagement because of social media. #MeToo caught on like wildfire in October 2017, though it was actually created in 2006 by social activist Tarana Burke to raise awareness for women of color who were survivors of sexual assault. After the Weinstein news, this hashtag was appropriated and women of all races around the world used it to share their own stories. 
  • Trump on Twitter: There’s a reason why Twitter is his extended mouthpiece—it’s the most “open social media platform on fast moving topics,” and for better or worse (and much worse than that), we’re able to know what he’s thinking in real time.
     

(Genuine) Content is King 
In spite of—or perhaps as a result of—today’s media, audiences are more savvy and discerning than ever. If you build it (authentic content), they will come—and they’ll engage with you in ways that marketers dream of. Retweet, yes. Follow on Instagram, yes. Show up for you virtually and physically, yes and yes. But the content has to be good. 

Here’s some recent work that reflects this ethos from Great Bowery Film:

  • ”Speech Moves,” from Washington Speakers Bureau, focused on the power of speech. Fueled by social, it earned over 40 million impressions in the first day alone.
  • Together with the Ad Council and Havas, our campaign “Numbers” was  jarring but incredibly effective. By spotlighting true stories of everyday people suffering from heart disease, coupled with a memorable URL as the call to action, this campaign was impactful and proved that purpose-driven work doesn’t have to come with a viral hashtag attached.

Other prime industry examples also reflecting this ethos of meaningful work include:

  • One America Appeal, a nonprofit founded by Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush spurred recovery efforts for the 2016 hurricane season. The campaign captured the essence of bipartisan support and leadership, helping to raise over $42 million. Both relatable and aspirational, One America Appeal was a wakeup call.
  • R/GA's "Love Has No Labels" for the Ad Council generated significant buzz thanks to its honest, empathetic, and humanizing approach that inspired a call to action rather than insisting upon one. 

As we continue to face social issues that need our help, the creative community has a responsibility and an opportunity to be part of the solution—and change the world as we do it. 

Shannon Lords is the executive producer of Great Bowery Film, the in-house film production company of Great Bowery.

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