Cannes Lions

MassMutual presents The Unsung


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The end of a year is a time for reflection. As the Earth completes another rotation around the Sun, we allow ourselves time to reflect on who we are as part of the greater narrative of humanity. When reflecting on 2017, we were overwhelmed with feelings of negativity.

While the year offered an endless barrage of bad news, there was an opportunity to give Americans the chance to reflect on something positive rather than dwell on the negative.

We dug beyond the mainstream headlines to uncover stories that got lost in the noise of the year. What we unveiled were the uplifting stories of six real people––unsung heroes––that deserved a platform and the opportunity to lift people's spirits heading into the new year.

What better place to do this than one of those primary sources of aggravation: cable news.


We identified Great Big Story (GBS) as a perfect partner for this campaign for its unique ability to tell uplifting stories––but also because its parent company, CNN, was a significant source of the negative news were we trying to counterprogram.

We worked with GBS to produce short documentaries, profiling our unsung heroes from across the country and wove the stories together to the song “I’ll Stand by You,” and set social, print, and radio to drive to with branded content.

On New Year’s Eve, we ran all of the documentaries with editorial integrations throughout the day. As the campaign’s centerpiece, we were the exclusive advertiser of the 11pm-12am broadcast on CNN, which culminated in a two-minute live event in honor of our heroes, broadcast in the final minutes of the year––giving MassMutual the last word of 2017.


With its live ad, MassMutual captured the last mass tune-in opportunity available on broadcast, helping the brand boost awareness and familiarity. Positive responses proved we met our objective: “ad of the year,” “the most beautiful exit to 2017,” and “a beacon of hope into the new year.”

By the end of 2017, MassMutual’s brand awareness metrics doubled. Unsung delivered a 400% increase in website traffic, 43% lift in brand searches, and produced +12% lifts in positive sentiment on social––more than other marketing efforts for the brand in 2017. The campaign delivered 635MM total cross-channel impressions, 21MM video views, +170K engagements, and coverage by industry trade for becoming the first brand to leverage a cultural moment on New Year’s Eve for a live ad integration on CNN.

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