In a World of Head Nods And Waves, Let’s Not Forget Handshakes

How A Simple Gesture Can Help Inform Your Biggest Campaigns

By: Drew Pratt

Drew Pratt is Group Director, Branded Content at Havas Sports & Entertainment.

I work in the handshaking business. Seriously, I do. In an industry populated by mostly head nods and waves, my craft is in shaking hands. This simple gesture forms an instant connection, displays personality and builds trust. Quick acknowledgments are valuable and keep communication going, but showing character and planting a seed for lasting relationships, it happens with the first handshake.

Of course, I am attributing a handshake to the world of custom content, a platform that allows brands to protrude their values and build relevancy with consumers, breaking the mold of traditional media. Let me explain a recent example of how, what I’ll call, The Handshake Formula, and how connection, personality and trust was applied to custom content.

At the end of 2018, we were challenged by Total Wireless, a prepaid cellphone service, to tell the story of its brand ethos “Total Confidence”, inspiring people to be courageous and make positive changes in their lives. This was captured and brought to life by the Ellen Digital Network, through a six-part digital series entitled Fearless hosted by Ashley Graham. The program featured heart-felt human interest stories of people that were going through a setback in their lives and needed total confidence to make a change for the better. Total Wireless became the conduit to these inspirational and uplifting moments, connecting the brand back to these impactful stories. Millions of viewers and fans of ELLEN watched and talked about Fearless, opening up a forum to discuss their own stories of struggle and triumph, while also relating to a number of stories featured from these individuals.

Form an Instant Connection:

By partnering with the Ellen Digital Network, Total Wireless was given a significant (and relevant) platform to extend its hand and “meet” new people, building an emotional connection with those watching from the very beginning. Total Wireless wasn’t selling a product, but instead, constructing a foundation off of its brand values that others can relate to in a meaningful way.

Display Personality:

Each episode was grounded in recognizing a challenge and making a change for the better, precisely what Total Wireless stands for as a brand. With Ashley Graham as the host, who has went through a number of obstacles to get to where she is today as a successful model and TV personality, the series helped deepen the characteristics and qualities of Total Wireless. In addition to Ashley, three celebrities made an appearance in various episodes to share their own personal stories of overcoming hurdles.

Build Trust:

A handshake signifies assurance, authenticity and open ups the door for future exchanges. Ellen is one of the most influential, compassionate and talked about figures, making it easier to add another layer of trust between the brand and their fans and consumers. Recognition and familiarity has been built, another benefit of shaking hands.

The Ellen Digital Network successfully established Total Wireless within Fearless and shined a light on our messaging of total confidence. In such a busy marketplace, it’s vital to find one-of-a-kind opportunities where competitors are not playing, and throw a stake in the ground.

I would encourage anyone reading this to think about some of the simplest things that are done in your everyday life, and how it can be applied to the workplace to spark new thinking. For me, it’s a handshake that does the trick, approaching ideation and storytelling through connection, personality and trust.

Watch the episodes below: