You don’t have to literally produce emotions in order to activate the emotional brain and be persuasive. But it can be awfully powerful when you do.
The more you understand about the nuances involved in persuasion and influence the more you realize how challenging it is to hit all the right notes and really connect emotionally in an authentic way, especially in the ultra-condensed timeframe of a video spot.
This piece, directed by Michael Clarke for Freeride Entertainment and Leo Burnett Chicago on behalf of Samsung is especially successful on the metrics of emotional persuasion. It doesn’t hurt that Kenworthy himself is a ready-made bundle of persuasive triggers to begin with – authority, friendship, consistency and hope personified. He’s even got the word “worthy” in his name.
Samsung know what they have, here. They even call it “Letters of Influence.” And what’s admirable in particular about that title is that the influence being highlighted is a loop, a virtuous cycle between Kenworthy and his friends and fans and family.
Celebrity endorsements are something of a no-brainer for brands because they are an immediate and direct route to certain emotional triggers like Authority and Consistency. But success depends on who the celebrity is, and to what degree consumers can identify with them. It was only a short time ago that an out gay athlete would have been, if not untouchable, then at least controversial; a risky bet.
What’s especially successful about the Kenworthy spot, then, is the framing of his sexuality as yet another challenge to overcome in the pursuit of excellence and, indeed, authenticity. Samsung has done what was thought to be impossible: turning an avoided minority experience into something universal.