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When the Ad Council helped launch the ‘Love Has No Labels’ campaign in 2015, it envisioned a world where people accepted those of all races, sexual orientations and backgrounds. It has evolved over the last few years and the new iteration of the campaign shows how natural disasters can bring people together, but asks why it takes one for that to sometimes happen.

The Ad Council, R/GA, and an unprecedented group of brand partners today (13 November) premiered Rising, a short film that shows how people band together to help each other in times of natural disasters.

The film was directed by Game of Thrones’ David Nutter and written by Lena Waithe, creator of Showtime drama series The Chi. It features the immediate aftermath of a massive storm and challenges viewers to consider why it takes a disaster to bring us together.

The fictional film borrows from real-life events and pays tribute to those moments when people from different backgrounds have come together following natural disasters.

The focus is on a Middle Eastern family. The teen boy in the film is shown doing his chores, which involves running a US flag up the flagpole, where he is watched with trepidation by his neighbor. Though it is a diverse neighborhood, many don’t seem to trust one another. But during a massive flood, as the boy cries for help to save his mother, who is in a wheelchair, the neighbors rise to the occasion, banding together to pull her to safety. Rising hopes to encourage all Americans to come together and ultimately inspire people to act inclusively every day.

“Rising is a poignant and powerful film that takes us back to where we started with Love Has No Labels, reminding everyone to see each other as humans above all else,” said Lisa Sherman, president and chief executive officer of the Ad Council. “In moments of disaster, our capacity for good is limitless and we cast our differences aside to support one another. This film will inspire people to bring that innate humanity into their daily actions and create a more inclusive world.”

Rising reflects research that shows that catastrophes have one of the most profoundly unifying effects on people. The dramatic short film was created pro bono by R/GA with Great Guns and VFX by Ntropic. Though the action is fictional, a closing montage features photos of real disaster survivors coming together regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability and age. The film challenges viewers to carry an innate capacity to love one another into their daily lives through small acts of inclusion.  

“We live in a time of tribalism. Rising is a story about shifting the way we communicate,” said director Nutter. “Through this film we want people to go from being defensive of those who are different to accepting and embracing our differences.”

Said screenwriter Waithe: “So excited to be involved. We need stories like this that bring people together, especially now.”

The film also featured an impressive production team including cinematographer Peter Menzies Jr, hair and makeup artist Cyndi Reece, Emmy-nominated stunts professional Eddie Perez, Emmy-nominated sound designer Tim Hays, and music supervisor Akila Robinson.

As a launch partner, Showtime 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. National CineMedia will run the film trailers in theaters across the country. And iHeartRadio will promote the film with messages of support from top artists airing on stations nationwide. Rising also can be viewed on the Love Has No Labels website and social channels.

The original ‘Love Has No Labels’ video became the first PSA to win an Emmy for Outstanding Commercial and received more than 169m views making it the second most viewed social activism video of all time. In 2016, it was followed by ‘We Are America’ featuring John Cena celebrating the diversity of America on Independence Day. In 2017, Love Has No Labels put a twist on the kiss cam by turning it into a symbol for unbiased love with ‘Fans of Love.’ In total, the campaign’s three videos have exceeded 350m online views. The goal of the campaign has always been to elevate messages of unbiased love to promote acceptance across race, religion, gender, sexuality, ability and age. The latest film extends the campaign message further by encouraging people to take everyday actions to create a more inclusive community. 

“Rising is based on the observation that the worst of mother nature can bring out the best in human nature,” said Eric Jannon, vice-president, executive creative director of R/GA. “We wanted to show that while devastating, natural disasters like hurricanes wash away prejudices and often result in people stepping up, without hesitation, to help those they don’t know – and in some cases are prejudiced against.”

An accompanying series of short videos produced by Facebook as an Anthology Partnership will tell the stories of people coming together after recent disasters and moments of crises. The videos will explore the power of community and the longstanding relationships and deep connections that are forged during harrowing times. The series will launch on Facebook early next year. People will also be able to contribute to the Hurricanes Michael and Florence relief efforts on the Love Has No Labels website.

See the full film by clicking the Creative Works box below.

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