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  • Jamie Campbell


Updated: Dec 1, 2019

“You can’t sell something until you’ve entered someone’s mind.”- Beth Comstock, CMO of GE.

We were shooting an interview of a C-Suite executive at a major healthcare company. He was concerned about his performance so we assured him he’d be pleased once he watched the final, edited video.

“Oh, I’ll never watch this video,” he replied with a dismissive smirk.


This key member of the leadership team was trashing his own video before it was even made. He knew it would not be good enough to be interesting. While I was surprised at his attitude, I agreed with him. This video was probably going to suck. I walked into this shoot assuming the material would be dry and uninspired, but I didn’t know that they knew it too. This project was launched by the company president for the executives to define their visions for the upcoming year and set goals for lower management and employees. As we went through the interviews, we encountered the same fatigued approach to the project, “Let me just get through this.”

If upper level management can’t even be bothered to care, why would they expect their employees to?

I challenged myself to come up with an antidote to this approach. What would be a better appeal to the employees of this company? What if they were not treated like a captive audience? What if they were treated like potential customers, and the message needed to compete to gain their attention, trust and loyalty? Would the message still be warmed-over bullet points delivered by disengaged executives, or would it fight for their attention and appeal to their emotions and desires?

Most companies are built from the passionate belief that something can be done better. That passion lives in the core values of the brand. In smaller startups, it is easy for those values to shine as the initial momentum carries them forward. But as companies grow, those values can become dull over time. The best way to reflect those values is from the point of view of the people most affected by it–the end user; in this case, the employees. Like customers, they need to be inspired by the brand and share its values in order to feel trust in the organization.

By telling the customer’s story, we see the brand woven into the context of the human journey, complete with adversity and triumphs. We recognize universal emotions in the characters on screen and, like a magnet, we become invested in their struggle. We enter the story and go along for the ride.

This is how customers become engaged. In order to care, they need to see themselves in the story.

Shifting from the controlled message of the top stakeholders to the dynamic, authentic voice of employees is a bold move, and doing so sends a clear message that the lifeblood of the company lives in the people on the front lines.

These are your organization’s first responders. These are your heroes.

This is how this company could have reached its employees. By letting them be the heroes of their own challenges and accomplishments; by letting them share their journey and vision of things to come, they open a door for all other employees to become part of the story.

That story is the brand.

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