The Ad Council is a national non-profit that uses the power of communications to tackle the toughest issues facing the country today. They bring together partners from the media and tech, marketing and advertising, and government and nonprofit worlds to enact social change at scale, tackling nearly 40 social issues each year.
The Love Has No Labels campaign, which launched in 2015, is designed to promote acceptance and inclusion of all people across sex, gender, race, religion, ability and age.
With such an important goal, the Love Has No Labels campaign knew they needed to reach as wide an audience as possible — and get that audience involved too.
The first installment of the campaign, the iconic Skeletons video, shows an X-ray screen with skeletons embracing one another. As the crowds of onlookers grow larger and more curious, the skeletons step out from behind the X-ray screen revealing real friends, families and relationships that spanned different religions, races, disabilities and more, demonstrating that “love has no labels.” The touching video, and the campaign as a whole, reminds viewers that before anything else, we are all human.
Instantly Viral: Sourcing Organic Content from a Nationwide Community
The Ad Council saw a massive response to the video right away. Within 24 hours after the video debuted on Facebook, it was viewed 11 million times and has become one of the most successful PSA campaigns in history. The audience wasn’t simply watching the video and moving on; people were connecting to it and sharing it with their circles as well.
“We saw how people were connecting to the campaign and saw themselves reflected in the real people featured in the video. They were organically sharing pictures of themselves and their diverse partners and friends with #LoveHasNoLabels,” said Carolina Treviño, Digital Product Manager at the Ad Council. “We really wanted to find a way to show all that great organic content across our website and social.”
The Ad Council saw all of these incredible images being published by thousands of inspired people across social media, now they just needed a way to curate and showcase all of that diverse content.
So they turned to Stackla to help develop and deliver a user-generated content (UGC) strategy that could harness the power of the national #LoveHasNoLabels community to promote social good.
Transforming a Campaign into a Community: User-Generated Content Consistently Outperforms Branded Content
By partnering with the Stackla platform, the Ad Council was able to aggregate thousands of #LoveHasNoLabels posts from across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, building an audience-driven community from coast to coast. People naturally wanted to contribute to — and celebrate — the connectedness between each other.
With all the rich content being posted online, the Ad Council implemented two Stacka-powered UGC galleries on their website to promote the campaign’s ongoing support in real-time.
One visual gallery features social posts with the hashtag #LoveHasNoLabels, and the other features posts from Love Has No Labels’ corporate partners, like The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, State Farm, P&G, Unilever, Google, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Johnson & Johnson, who also create #LoveHasNoLabels content.
Since UGC has proven to be a reliable source of engaging visuals, Love Has No Labels also shares organic #LoveHasNoLabels content across their social media channels.
UGC is often among our top performing content on social. People just love seeing themselves reflected on our social channels.Shirley Yeung, PR and Social Media Director at the Ad Council
Results: Over 40,000 #LoveHasNoLabels Images Sourced (And Counting)
Since 2015, the campaign has curated more than 40,000 authentic #LoveHasNoLabels images for use across their website and social channels.
UGC is a key part of their social media strategy in order to highlight all the different stories of love and acceptance from their community. According to Yeung, “We’ve built so much momentum behind the Love Has No Labels hashtag that we often don’t have to ask people to share their stories. People are using and responding to the hashtag on their own, and it’s been great to see how fully people have embraced our message.”
And the campaign’s continued success doesn’t stop at increased engagement across the board. The Love Has No Labels campaign was the first PSA to win an Emmy Award for Best Commercial. The campaign has gone on to win multiple Cannes Lions Awards, as well as a number of other awards across the industry.
Love Has No Labels was also able to find Meredith and Nakware through Stackla. The couple shared their excitement about the campaign on Instagram, and Ad Council loved the photo they shared. The Love Has No Labels team reached out to the couple, asking if they could use their UGC on a billboard. They said yes!
View this post on Instagram
Well. We had a moment. This past weekend in Chicago @nakware and I visited THE BILLBOARD. For months, friends have been texting us videos and pictures of our faces prominently displayed above traffic right smack down in the middle of Logan Square…so HELL YES we had to see it for ourselves! No doubt, there were tears. The @lovehasno_ campaign has held a special place in my heart the last few years. It’s shown that acceptance of love not always as simple and straightforward for some as it is for others. But it’s also given me hope that love does in fact always win and conquer all. It’s truly an honor to even play a part of this message, especially along side this incredible man of mine. May our love always be as big and beautiful as this billboard. #loveislove #lovewins #lovehasnolabels #lovehasnocolor #lovehasnorace #interraciallove #interracialcouple
With Meredith and Nakware, Love Has No Labels tapped into the power of UGC across digital and physical marketing strategies to build a cohesive, relatable brand. Love Has No Labels went on to feature a case study about the couple as well — providing another UGC touchpoint in the campaign.
Ensuring Engagement Year-Over-Year with a UGC-Centric Campaign
Since the initial Skeletons video, the Love Has No Labels campaign has produced and launched subsequent integrated campaigns, including the “We Are America” video, featuring WWE Super Star John Cena who challenges us to reconsider what the “average American” looks like, and the “Fans of Love” video, which put a twist on the traditional kiss cam by turning it into a symbol for unbiased love and acceptance.
The most recent campaign launched with an original short film called “Rising,” directed by David Nutter of “Game of Thrones” and screenwritten by Lena Waithe of “Master of None” and “The Chi” and Azia Squire, which asks the question “why does it take a disaster to bring us together?” and encourages us all to act inclusively every day.
The audience has continued to engage with the #LoveHasNoLabels hashtag as the campaign as evolves. The message remains relevant through the real-time user-generated content appearing on the website and across social media — continually prompting more and more people to want to add their voices to the conversation as it develops year after year.
As the the Ad Council continues to add to the Love Has No Labels repertoire and plan for future PSA campaigns, they plan to continue sourcing user-generated images with Stackla.
“Stackla is very easy to use. It’s made it a breeze to gather and hone in on all the great content that’s being shared across a bunch of platforms. It’s been very useful — we love it!”