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Special Project

Special Project
From the 7th Annual Shorty Awards


Entered in Instagram



Instagram is not simply a rich, diverse and exhilarating platform for images, but for people too. That's what inspired Philips to launch a unique social campaign by using Instagrammers to create content and spread the brand's philosophy.

By providing a channel through which people could express what the concept of 'light' means to them, Philips would enhance its reputation as an innovator and a global technology leader, showcasing its digital transformation and telling its story in a more complete way.

The aim has not been to feature products or Philips itself, but to present visually arresting arc storytelling focused on beauty and inspiration – in effect, sponsoring and curating wonderful pictures and stories from new media artists. These stories have become as much about the people as the images, enabling the collaborators to become part of this multi-layered narrative.

By inspiring people to engage with the brand in a meaningful way, Philips has been able to share its brand values whilst curating an Instagram channel of astonishing creativity.


Aided by Nine carefully chosen, globally popular Instagrammers, the #Lightislife campaign launched in June 2014 with the principle assertion that without light there is no photography. Subsequent postings tell personal stories through arresting images and simple copy. In four months, with no promotional budget, the Philips Instagram platform increased its following by 50 per cent, averaging around 250 likes per post with an additional ten interactive comments and has sparked a significant rise in engagement on other Philips social channels.

Strategy and Execution


There are two sides to every brand's story – that which it seeks to tell about itself and the one created by its customers. Invariably, the latter is most interesting. And if brands have the courage to liberate themselves from rigid corporate expectations by allowing social media users to rewrite, refashion and remake those stories, the results can be extraordinarily uplifting.

That is the experiment Philips immersed itself in with its pioneering #Lightislife Instagram campaign, running concurrently in more than 60 markets, focusing on the twin principles of storytelling and inspiring content. What began as an informative, pictorial series, has become a wonderfully creative forum for people to display, through mini-stories, what light means to them.

The cohesive brand strategy and visual narrative splintered into a multi-stranded user-generated campaign, exploring how we take light for granted. The meaning of light became a study in the meaning of life and it helped to humanize the Philips brand by strengthening the customer connection.

Within days, the brand's story became not the central element of #Lightislife but a tool with which people could display captivating images exploring the nature of light, how it can transform a face, a place or favourite view, how it can make the mundane spectacular and change our perceptions. How it can make us think again about the world.

That is the true power of social media - which is why #Lightislife has become one of Instagram's most original campaigns. Instead of Philips telling the brand story, people are telling their own thought-provoking stories.

Stories such as those created by Simone Bramante – @Brahmino – whose astonishingly inventive, gravity-defying images reflect his adventures across the world. Or Oliver Vegas, who uses his stunningly beautiful @ovunno Instagram account to show how light can transform the landscape. And there is Tokyo-based photographer Hiroaki Fukuda whose stark, atmospheric images of her city have made @hirozzz a perfect example of what #Lightislife is all about – creativity, beauty and storytelling.


Our good idea evolved into a community of good ideas, all attempting to eloquently express in images the value of light. Transcending what we think of as mere message-posting, this is art in its most meaningful and democratised form. A community of purpose on a single platform.

The pieces and the series are also art in themselves and the pieces have resonated with the audience to such an extent that Philips are now going to be hosting a Light is Life exhibition. The exhibition will feature a selection of some of the most popular work from the campaign at the Philips Museum in Eindhoven later this year.

And almost by accident – or perhaps by design – the creative efforts of customers began to reflect the values that have, over the past 100 years, made Philips one of the world's most innovative brands. A passion for ideas, a pride in our heritage, a compulsion to shine a light on those less fortunate, a creative eye for the unusual, an expressive yearning to do something different, a desire to tell inspiring stories and connect with people, an innate understanding of what gives meaning to individuals and communities.

For brands, that is one of the most awesome enablers of social media – to allow consumers to see beyond a logo and a brand's familiar aesthetic and, perhaps, develop that brand in their own image. Engage in an online collaboration in which the traditional boundaries of business and customer are blurred by the flair of creativity.

Thus, the audience can connect with a brand on a deeper level. That is what #Lightislife has done – providing people with an opportunity to engage with a digitally-empowered Philips by displaying their creative abilities. And allowing Philips to harness those energies to spread their influence and recognition around the world, increase customer loyalty and tell the brand's inspirational story to a new audience.


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