Reach Out and Hug Your Neighbor

How do you advertise something as abstract as the importance of reaching out to help others?

In this United Way commercial, people from different walks of life are shown. They’re old and young, black and white, male and female, and they all appear in front of a stark white background. At the beginning of the commercial, they all look very different. But then they all start to undress. Don’t get the wrong idea. This isn’t a commercial unsuitable for children. The people just begin to peel off the excess layers of their wardrobe, like hats, scarves and sweaters. And at the end, we see that they’re all wearing the same shirt that reads “Live United.” A cover version of Pat Benetar’s “We Belong” plays in the background.

The announcer reads: Underneath everything we are, underneath everything we do, we are people. Connected. Interdependent. United. And when we reach out a hand to one, we can influence the condition of all. That’s what it means to live united.

The message? We all might look different on the outside, but when you take a step back and peel off the layers, we’re all very similar.

There’s something about United Way’s latest campaign that I love. It’s got the feel of a Gap ad, it’s simple and it makes me want to hug the next person I see. I hope it increases support of United Way, too.


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