“When it’s people doing the right thing, they call it responsibility. When it’s an insurance company, they call it Liberty Mutual. Responsibility. What’s your policy?”

And so goes the copy in this feel-good campaign for Liberty Mutual done by Hill Holiday in Boston. The films show real people stopping what they’re doing in order to help others, one after another. Contributing to the good karma in our universe. Paying it forward, as it were. While this is hardly a new idea in our culture (the Judea-Christian belief system is based on it), it is striking sentiment for communications from a large multi-national. Let me rephrase that: Lot’s of companies talk about what nice companies they are but few endorse human kindness as an operating principle. Either way, the key to this thing working is whether consumers buy into it. If Joe America believes insurance companies are a soul-crushing matrix of liars and paperwork, he is not apt to appreciate the “do unto others” approach. Or, and this is what the marketing team at Liberty Mutual undoubtedly hopes, upon receiving these heartwarming messages, Joe America will soften to the company like cold butter on a hot muffin.

Either way, I admire this creative. By going back to biblical pretext (do unto others, etc), LM has actually modernized the rhetoric. “Like a good neighbor,” is an overt claim about State Farm’s personnel, as is the “Good Hands People” for Allstate. The LM films depict a succession of civilians doing good deeds without selfish motives. Which leads to more good karma and, well, the world gets better. By calling this behavior “responsibility” Liberty Mutual suffuses their strategy with a moral imperative. I’m curious what others think about this move. Are you impressed by it…or depressed?

Interestingly enough, in my new novel, The Happy Soul Industry God solicits an advertising agency to come up with concepts for marketing Heaven or, as the angelic brand manager in the story puts it: “goodness in all of its forms.” Kind of like the LM brief, isn’t it? In my book, “How are you?” becomes the organizing principle in a new campaign for Heaven. If people are honest in their answers, they realize something is missing in their lives and that something is God.

Examine the “How Are You?” blog at Happy Soul’s website. People are willing to unburden themselves online. To be rigorously honest. Maybe people are just as open to helping others as well, and not just friends and family. But “Everyone!” as Bono often exhorts in his famously uplifting concerts. Taken further, maybe we are all looking for a higher power (of our understanding) to help us on a daily basis. Could we, as a society, be dusting off our moral compasses? The Liberty Mutual campaign suggests as much. The Hill Holiday planner clearly saw something happening in the culture, to the consumer, which could alter the category. Paying it forward became a creative strategy.

There’s a great saying in recovery houses: If you want to improve your self-esteem, do estimable things. That’s what Liberty Mutual is telling to “do” in their commercials. Is that an appropriate strategy? A bigger question: If the quest for spirituality is becoming a strategic platform for advertisers is that exploitation or an example of doing the next right thing?

Thank God for the good kind of tired.

I’ve been asking people to answer the ultimate question at happysoulindustry.com: How Are You? Well, today I am a happy soul. I have gratitude. And so I want to talk about gratitude in the cynical world of advertising…

Today we participated in the third and final round of a new business pitch. I won’t name the client but it had come down to us against my old employer, Leo Burnett. Coming into this session we were in a dead heat. They’d been more impressive in round one whereas we took the second. And now we were at match point. All the marbles, as they say. Our “A” team against their “A” team.

Folks, I live for meetings like this. I love putting our brains against good competition. It’s an honor just to be asked in. Having distinguished ladies and gentleman at the top of their games asking us to help them with communications, with getting to the next level. What do you want to do when you grow up?

However you look at the pitching process, we are on a stage. Weeks of preparation, maybe months: the day of reckoning beckons us to our marks. It is a relay. Today ours was also a marathon. 6 hours! Each member of our team had a segment and in turn was relied upon to set up the next. If our arguments were made deftly, in time, and with passion we have a new client. If not, we don’t.

Don’t you love it? I do. Long ago the euphoria of coming up with killer ideas and arguing for them became my Valhalla. While I adore the craftsmanship required in making stellar ads, nothing compares to pitching them. The best idea needs the best team in order to win. If we have both I am in advertising heaven.

The Gods of Advertising shined on us today. We had our best stuff. If we do not prevail it will be because a venerable powerhouse kicked our ass. I know today we did not lose. We may have been beaten. But failure was not self-made. Only waiting is agony.

If all this sounds like a psychotic ramble (Dan Draper on acid), it is! I’m no longer an awards show whore. I don’t do drugs and alcohol. I am an idea junkie and nothing delivers the goods like a monster pitch. This is why I have gratitude. I get paid to do something I feel so good doing that it actually gets me high. And it’s a natural high, an earned one. Last night I stayed up writing the words I would later deliver. My teammates did their version of same. And man, we hit it. We hit it good.

Afterwards, the clients presumably satiated and tucked into their limos home, I collapsed on the couch in my office. (I have a couch; there’s something to be grateful for!) I was completely drained. I had peaked. Win or lose, I felt good. I had the utmost gratitude for being invited, for the effort of my colleagues, and for my part in it.

The look in everyone’s eyes when we closed… It doesn’t get any better than that.