Since 2015, the Ad Council’s powerful, award-winning campaign "Love Has No Labels" has been shining a light on the importance of inclusion and human connection. Now, the initiative has released its latest iteration - a short film that pushes Americans to ask themselves why it takes a catastrophe for people to come together.
The film, "Rising," was created pro bono with R/GA, Great Guns and VFX by Ntropic and directed by Game of Thrones’ David Nutter. Screenwriter Lena Waithe, creator of Showtime drama series The Chi and Emmy winning writer for Master of None and Azia Squire, penned the script for the film.
In 11 minutes, the original content features a diverse group of Americans helping one another in the aftermath of a devastating storm. The closing montage shows photos of real disaster survivors joining forces regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age and more.
Nutter told Campaign that he hopes the film reminds people of "how powerful we are together."
"Rising is the type of film that every American should see," he said. "It will move you - I guarantee it will touch your soul. There’s a wonderful sense of inclusion, connection, balance and working together as human beings and it was important to create an emotional world where you can see that and never for a moment question it."
Eric Jannon, VP and executive creative director of R/GA New York, said that the agency realized that in times of massive division, people who don’t know each other naturally come together to survive disasters.
"While the hurricanes were causing tremendous damage, they were also washing away prejudices," said Jannon. "We listened to hundreds of pretty emotional stories involving diverse people. We couldn’t tell all of these amazing stories at once but we found a way to tell one that was inspired by all of them."
R/GA decided to tell the story in a short film to give viewers enough time to connect with the theme.
Audiences can watch "Rising" on the Love Has No Labels website and social channels. Showtime, a launch partner, will air the film on air and on demand. Clear Channel Outdoor is supporting the campaign by showing Rising and the creative assets on billboards across the country, while National CineMedia will run trailers in theater around the nation. Additionally, iHeartRadio will promote the film with messages of support from top artists on a variety of U.S. stations.
"We hope that people are moved by this story enough to question why it takes a disaster to come together," said Chris Northam, VP and executive creative director at R/GA. "Why not be more kind and accepting of differences every day? Why do we make assumptions based on people’s appearances just like we did with these fictional characters?"
He added: "Hopefully through sharing and discussing this film and the insight behind it we can start to unlock the pre-programmed good within us all and not wait for disaster to access it."
The film and the campaign will be promoted through a number of partners who donated media, digital and social support, such as Amazon, AT&T, The New York Times, PopSugar, Upworthy, Facebook and many more. Publicis Media worked pro bono on the effort.
Brand partners, like Bank of America, Budweiser, The Coca-Cola Company, Google, Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, P&G, State Farm, Unilever and Wells Fargo, are promoting the film on their social channels.
Heidi Arthur, chief campaign development officer of Ad Council, said the organization plans on holding grassroots activations around the film, including community and college campus screenings, throughout the year. The film will also be entered into awards and festivals. "This isn’t about winning awards, but it’s such a powerful piece of film and it’s been so well-received that we’ll be entering it into awards and festivals without a question," said Arthur.
Next year, the Ad Council plans on releasing a docu-series in partnership with Facebook that will focus on similar real-life stories, she added.
The Ad Council, Arthur said, is hoping that the film, which is about "not just the diversity of love, but the power of human connections," will also drive people to LoveHasNoLabels.com as a resource and learning tool.
"The idea is not just to remind people in that moment [of watching the film] that we have the capacity to connect as humans," she said, "and the website takes it to the everyday."