Tuesday, October 25, 2016
  • Sunday, Sep. 11, 2016
Ad Council’s “Love Has No Labels” Wins Primetime Commercial Emmy Award
Ad Council's "Love Has No Labels"
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Ad Council’s “Love Has No Labels”--from agency R/GA and directed by Danielle Levitt of Persuade and Influence which produced the job along with Mindride--won the primetime commercial Emmy Award during the first leg of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony on Saturday (9/10) at LA Live’s Microsoft Theater. 

The Ad Council piece features a variety of couples interacting behind a large X-ray installation. As the skeletons kiss and dance, viewers mentally fill in the blanks. When unexpected duos step out from behind the screen, including a loving gay couple, the surprise gives viewers a simple demonstration of their implicit bias--and often leads to their acceptance of something that is actually quite beautiful.

The public service spot has resonated with viewers, promoting unity at a time when divisiveness seems to be the norm. This positive message has helped “Love Has No Labels” become one of the year’s most shared ads.

Earlier, shortly after “Love Has No Labels” earned its Emmy nomination--the first ever for R/GA--SHOOT connected with several artisans at the agency to discuss the work. Chris Northam, group executive creative director, related, “We set out to make something that would become part of culture and it had a huge response from the public with over 160 million views. It has also been well recognized with industry awards from Cannes to Clio.” However, the Emmy recognition, affirmed Northam, goes a step further, showing that the message goes well beyond just advertising, garnering mainstream appeal.

R/GA group ECD Eric Jannon observed that among the creative challenges posed by “Love Has No Labels” was bringing the X-ray screen to life. “We didn’t want it to be a postproduction trick because before it was a TV spot it was a live event so it had to work. But also casting real people with real stories was essential. Luckily we were blessed with an incredible cast that outshone the technical achievement.” 

Northam said, “From the moment we decided the effect was going to be captured live, it was a challenge. We needed our cast to be able to just be themselves and have the 3D skeletons models react instantly to their movement. Many options were considered and tested. In the end we opted for a motion capture approach similar to movies like Avatar. Our cast wore small motion capture sensors. In fact if you look closely you can see them on the wrists, ankles and necks of our cast throughout the film. Actually the effect was so convincing in the end there were a number of online comments complaining about the amount of radiation such a large X-ray machine must be generating.”

Kat Friis, executive director of production, R/GA, added, “As a producer your job is to make things happen somehow--and getting production partners on board to make the idea a reality for the money we had was an enormous challenge. Thank goodness I spent my career calling everyone back and being respectful and kind and some amazingly talented folks decided to answer the phone when I called.” Another challenge for Friis was “to sort out the logistics of the tech and also wrangle everything needed for a live event on the 3rd Street Promenade [in Santa Monica, Calif.] on Valentine’s Day. We needed everything to happen in camera or it wasn’t going to have the same effect. It can’t be a live event if it didn’t happen right in front of you. The coordination of the tech and also the live-action, live, was the biggest technical challenge.”

“Love Has No Labels” topped a field of Emmy-nominated spots this year which also consisted of: Gatorade’s “Dear Peyton” directed by Henry-Alex Rubin of Smuggler for TBWA\Chiat\Day, Los Angeles;  Google’s “Year In Search 2015” from agency 72andSunny and produced by its in-house production studio Hecho en 72; Honda’s “Paper” from agency RPA and directed by PES of production house RESET; and Snickers’ “Marilyn” directed by Jim Jenkins of O Positive for BBDO New York.

For the first time, the Creative Arts Emmy Awards are being presented over two consecutive nights rather than a single evening ceremony. Part two of the Creative Arts Emmy proceedings takes place this evening (Sunday, 9/11). And next Sunday, 9/18, the primetime Emmy Awards’ live telecast will be on ABC.