11th Apr, 2019

Analysis: Coach, Slack Show Us That Words Matter

At Persado, “Words Matter” isn’t just a tagline. We have seen how changing only one sentence, or even one word can drastically impact an audience’s response to a marketing message.

It makes sense. As marketers, we’re talking to people, and they want to be spoken to in a certain way. The same is true in life. Our words and the tone we use determine the extent to which an individual will engage with what we are saying. In a pair of recent campaigns, luxury designer Coach and technology company Slack, in conjunction with nonprofit company Catalyst, used digital marketing to encapsulate this. We analyzed how the two showed the world that words matter through a smart digital narrative. To do so, we used two parts of what Persado calls the anatomy of a message: its emotional appeal in engaging an audience and its narrative (the ability to build and tell stories using genuine, natural language).


Emotions: Anxiety, Guilt, Challenge, Excitement, Achievement, Fascination, Encouragement

In the context of the commercial, Michael B. Jordan encounters several stones in the desert that read “evil” and “hatred” – these concepts provoke Fear and Anxiety. He later comes across “lies” (Guilt). He’s alone in the desert, surrounded by negativity.

Jordan makes it his mission to replace the negativity with bold positivity. He replaces the old stones with new ones that read “courage” (Pride/Achievement), “truth” (Safety), “dream” (Fascination/Encouragement), and “love” (Excitement).

Narratives: There’s a bunch of good vs. evil in here, with the moral of the story being that love wins. It conquers hate—Coach is trying to tell us—and we should all strive to be better and maintain our positivity.


Emotions: Guilt, Challenge, Excitement

This campaign for Slack features their new bias-correcting plug-in, which aims to highlight biases in messages and offer alternative forms of expressing your thoughts.

“Everything she does is so calculated,” one coworker messages another. We don’t tag insults in our machine — we’d never let a client put down a customer, but Slack and Catalyst are using these words to make a point. The diss is closest to Guilt or Challenge. The goal is to make viewers rethink how they speak about women in the workplace, thereby challenging them and perhaps leaving them with a twinge of guilt for using it themselves.

The corrected version, “Everything she does is so strategic,” is a compliment. We would associate this with Excitement. The employees can be excited that their female boss has a plan and is carefully taking steps to put the team in the best position to hit their goals.

Narratives: In the most simplistic terms, Slack and Catalyst are asking us to follow the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated: with respect and by encouraging them, not insulting them. They’re trying to remind us to think before we press send and make the right choice, even if it means changing our current approaches.

Bottom Line: Through intelligent narratives and strong emotional appeal, brands can take a stand on social issues in a smart way. There is a place in all of this for creative insights, where brands can put their best ideals through a machine and having it predict, with mathematical certainty, the best one. Keen to learn more? Request a demo using the form below.

Note: These are campaigns Persado admires but did not necessarily work on with these top brands.


Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news & information.