Power to the People: Igniting Audience Engagement with Human Centered Creative

In our industry everything we do lives and breathes storytelling, but we talk less about the creative muscle behind those stories and how they come to be told. At GSG, our goal is to innovate and tell data-driven stories that make a deep impact with our clients and the audiences they need to reach most. The creative behind those stories is an important tool for bringing data to life and connecting with our audiences.

We live in an increasingly data-driven world, and we at GSG have decades of experience deriving insights from research, and interpreting that data to make its implications clear to our clients. To get the most out of data and reach audiences in a way that resonates powerfully, we look to connect insights to creative that includes a deeply human understanding of people and incorporates human values. We look to Human-Centered Creative.

Human-Centered Creative Makes Campaigns Stronger

Creative can be thought of as the collaboration between storytelling and design — to elevate strategic messaging, and turn it into a product that people can connect with, are excited about, and respond to.

To help data-driven messaging strategies spread and resonate deeply to drive real change, human-centered creative development should look something like this:



Every campaign can benefit from it.

Human-Centered Creative is an Essential Tool in Driving Change

Empathy and authenticity are the cornerstone of Human Values. While empathy is a soft skill, the ability to put oneself into the shoes of audiences to understand what drives them is a competitive advantage in today’s political environment. Audiences—whoever they may be—want to feel understood, and see that they are being taken into consideration.

Authenticity underpins empathy. When these elements connect with strategy in the right way, amazing rewards are possible, because deeper engagement is achieved with supporters who can scale your mission by advocating to their network of peers. Human-Centered Creative unlocks exactly this kind of audience engagement and gives more power directly to people to lead and influence change.

Take REI’s enormously successful #OptOutside campaign. Beautiful storytelling and design, from video and digital advertising to collateral, stoked a people-powered movement that has reverberated across the retail industry and continued every year since it was first launched in 2015.

Since Trump’s election, it’s more common to see brands hoping to capitalize on this kind of engagement, making political statements to appeal to their audiences by using social movements in their marketing campaigns. Without the key ingredients of empathy and authenticity, however, these messages fall flat — or worse. Like Pepsi’s Live for Now spot. Trying too hard to connect with a millennial audience, the brand positioned itself within the context of a generic protest that completely missed the mark. After generating public outrage, Pepsi pulled the ad and issued an apology.

The Power of Human-Centered Creative Isn’t Limited to Big Marketing and Advertising

It makes even the most complex or technical subjects compelling. For example, a bill summary sheet leave-behind or infographic that helps explain a complex issue simply and beautifully, captures extra attention on the Hill. Or branding a conference or meeting series to inspire greater attendance and impress attendees when they arrive makes them more likely to remember the event and talk about it to their peers. The need to apply the kind of thoughtful approach Human-Centered Creative stimulates is equally as great for these types of deliverables.

To give one of our own examples, GSG recently ran a four-week data-driven digital campaign in New York in support of the Governor’s package of criminal justice bills. We engaged progressive voters, educating and persuading them in Republican-controlled Senate districts, and creating a surround-sound effect within Albany. Digital Creative that brought the human experience of pretrial jailing to life via quotes and infographics inspired more than 10,000 emails to the Governor from people motivated to take action.


In an age when people are hungry for change — and the ability to influence it— connecting data and insights to Creative that is built on a powerful, human-centered story from day one, and uses beautiful design to consistently communicate it, wins the day.

The key is remembering: It’s not about us. It’s about compelling our audiences, and giving them the tools and power to drive change.

Alyssa Yeager spearheads creative services at GSG.

Learn more about how we apply Human Centered Creative at GSG.

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