May 3, 2024

5 iconic moments from our convo with Ad Council’s Michelle Hillman

Michael Karamanoukian

Associate Marketing Manager

Want to know what it’s like to tackle America’s biggest public issues for over two decades? You're in the right spot. Ad Council’s Michelle Hillman is sharing her strategies and wisdom for delivering the most important messages in the industry. As always, if you find these takeaways inspiring, be sure to listen to the full episode.

Emotional insights are key to behavior change

Emotion is one of the most powerful tools in advertising – and Ad Council is known for its astute use of it to change behavior. Michelle reminds us that compelling emotions aren’t just the heavy ones – they also humor. The secret to using emotion correctly is in the strategy phase. To get the best insight, it’s crucial to spend a lot of time with the people you’re trying to reach – not just asking questions, but truly observing their behavior. 

See how this kind of thinking comes to life in our Buzzed Driving Prevention campaign and learn how to unlock emotional, counterintuitive insights from VP of Strategy, Bhavik Joshi.

What grabs attention at the Effies

Wanna get your paws on an Effie award? Well, in this episode Michelle reveals some insider info that might help you. She says that the work needs to both strike and stick with her. Show that your agency uncovered a great insight and used it to craft an emotionally impactful piece. Your work must be innovative and fresh. If you do something that hasn’t been done before, you’ll be sure to stand out. 

One way you can be sure to stick out is by using a marketing or media tool in a new or innovative way that results in huge growth for your client. Make sure to present your results in a way that also sticks with the judges. The work gets you to the ceremony, but the presentation gets you the trophy. 

Why CMOs should consider getting a Creative Review Committee for their next campaign

In advertising, fresh work is everything. Creating truly unique work requires seeking new perspectives and ideas from a diverse set of people. That’s why Michelle suggests CMOs build a committee of advisors to sharpen ideas throughout the creation process. This practice also ensures that any personal biases the team brings to the table are checked at the door. Michelle’s Creative Review Committee includes advertising legends Cindy Gallop, Susan Credle, and Margaret Johnson. 

The secret to roping in these creative and strategic leaders pro bono is to include them in work that tackles topics they’re passionate about – it’s a great way for them to use their expertise to give back.

Why a trusted messenger strategy is critical for activating a campaign

Ad Council isn’t all about : 30-second spots – they also have a robust (and underrated) influencer strategy. Having a famous person in your ads is a great way to hold the audience's attention. But be sure to consider whether or not that person is the right messenger. Anyone who is extending Ad Council’s message must be highly credible and culturally relevant. Ad Council has an in-house content creative farm where they work closely with a number of influencers to multiply the impact on their messaging. 

What best-in-class mentorship looks like from both the mentor’s and mentee’s perspective

Strong mentorship can have a huge impact on a young professional’s career. It’s a two-way street though, so mentees must be open to receiving help. A mentee seeking advice should actively share things they are struggling with. The first step to receiving excellent support is being honest and vulnerable. Be aware of your weaknesses and allow your mentor to help you improve. 

On the flip side, mentors should notice when their mentee is struggling and offer help. Take people under their wing, don’t expect them to always reach out when they need support as they may feel uncomfortable. Mentors should also be honest and acknowledge their own faults since they too should be willing to grow. Learning doesn’t stop no matter how much experience you have. 

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