New Campaign for Thrive Senior Living

Josh Robinson, ECD at My Friend's Nephew talks shaking up a stale industry with an injection of humor with their latest campaign.

Josh Robinson
Executive Creative Director, Principal My Friend's Nephew

What was the original brief for this campaign?

This was Thrive Senior Living’s first-ever brand campaign, so our goal was to create a campaign that both elevated the brand and cut through industry clutter – ultimately growing the business while impacting cultural mindsets around senior living.

In a few words, tell us about your role in the creation of this work

Thrive was a house of brands. Multiple locations, all with separate brand identities and voices. Our challenge was to unify the brand not just in its advertising, but across its business. Starting with insights and strategy we guided Thrive to its first global brand voice. The outcome was the understanding that a brand-level campaign that accurately communicated Thrive’s differentiators with a bold creative edge was the right next step. Basically, we ran them through our “Making of a Campaign 101 course.” I’m kidding. That’s not a thing.

What inspired you to approach the campaign in this way?

The senior living industry is stale. Smiley, happy seniors holding hands. Or gardening. Always gardening. It’s also highly competitive, and we found that the language, messaging and tone are very similar across brands, making it challenging for consumers to differentiate between brands and their benefits. By using humor and anchoring communications on the human truth that “a parent’s final chapter can make siblings a little competitive,” the campaign stands out in a humorless category and builds a brand known for doing things differently.

How difficult was it to sell the idea to the client?

What we love about Thrive is that they are so ready to shake up a tired industry, and that they're hungry for new thinking and great ideas. There was conversation, as there always is, but they knew that if they laughed out loud when they saw it, so would their consumer. Many kudos to them for not forgetting their first reaction and not overthinking it.

What was the biggest challenge you faced during the process?

The target tends to be skeptical about whether there is any place that will care for their parent or loved one with the level of love and responsibility that they personally feel. This is also an industry that rarely uses humor, so we had to make sure the funny headlines were based on familiar human truths that would invite a lighthearted smile amidst what can sometimes be very difficult circumstances. Then, the messaging needed to quickly transition to be more empathetic and serious to show that Thrive sees and treats its residents as more precious than heirlooms – with purpose in every breath.

What did you learn from the experience?

That no matter what the industry or how hard a circumstance, people are always ready to laugh. (Most people. 98.2% Hard number. Test it.)

What’s the “behind the scenes” story that only you know about – until now?

When we first presented the concepts, Thrive's founder was in the room for all three campaigns. At the end of the presentation, he said, “I like the other two but the funny one is my favorite. It’s also the riskiest. Your call.” And then he left for another meeting. That level of instinct with an equal level of trust in his partner and team sets the bar for how agency/client relationships should work. 

Josh Robinson
Executive Creative Director, Principal My Friend's Nephew