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Tearjerker Ads Worth Spreading winner earns adoption rights for same-sex couple

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Expedia’s remarkably moving short film, “Find Your Understanding,” tells the true story of man named Artie Goldstein and his journey to accept his daughter Jill Goldstein’s marriage to another woman, Nikki Weiss. As the world waits for the Supreme Court decision on the Defense Against Marriage Act, millions have viewed this socially-conscious ad online. But in a poignant twist of fate, the film has done more than just open the hearts of its viewers. This piece — which was named one of TED’s Ads Worth Spreading — has played a significant role in helping Nikki secure parental rights of her son, Adler.

According to an article on Creativity Online, Nikki and Jill had agreed to participate in the film because they wanted to set a positive example for families struggling to come to terms with their gay children. And while the film shows footage of the couple’s wedding in 2010, the pair were not legally married under federal law. So when Jill gave birth on their second wedding anniversary, Nikki had to convince a social worker to allow her to adopt her own son in order to be legally considered as his parent.

The meeting with the social worker did not begin warmly. While taking Nikki’s fingerprints, she grilled Nikki about her relationship to Jill, “when we’ve known each other since we were children,” Nikki tells Creativity. But when the social worker asked the Weiss-Goldsteins about how their families felt about their relationship, they played her Expedia’s film. The social worker broke down in tears, and, as Nikki said, “I don’t think there were any more questions after that.” Nikki’s adoption of Adler becomes final on April 17th.

Sadly, Mr. Goldstein will not be able to see the impact of his eloquent and touching soliloquy on his path to acceptance of his daughter’s marriage. He passed away in January. But Nikki said that the Expedia film remains as a “love letter” from her father in law.

William Gelner, creative director at 180 LA, the agency behind the film, spoke to the TED Blog about “Find Your Understanding.” He says that it is proof that there needn’t be a “dividing line between doing good and [doing] business. Too rarely do we realize that, as advertising people, we have the ability to truly influence culture for the better.”

Gelner’s words embrace the spirit of Ads Worth Spreading, which TED created to recognize and award advertising that truly resonates with consumers. By boldly standing up for its values and talking to its audience like people rather than robotic purchasers, Expedia has gained new respect and a community of supporters.

As Gelner tells us, “[This ad] opened hearts, minds, and hopefully soon, the law books on the issue of marriage equality.”

Get to know more about Jill and Nikki, whose wedding was originally documented for an episode of The Real L Word, in the videos below: