Headlines in Allure, Redbook, Cosmopolitan and other top publications read Flowers = Powerful Medicine.  This message is a result of Ogilvy PR’s True Power of Flowers research program for the Society of American Florists (SAF), a branding campaign to increase purchases of fresh cut flowers from florists.  Ogilvy PR located a team of researchers at Rutgers University – including a world-renowned researcher on emotions – to explore behavioral and emotional links between flowers and happiness.  The 10-month study was Ogilvy PR’s brainchild, based on the company’s firm belief in research and building product loyalty through emotive relationships with the product.  As a result of The True Power of Flowers program and the nationwide media attention it has received, flowers are being transformed from thoughtful gifts that are simply pleasing to the eye, to gifts that trigger happy emotions and affect social behavior far beyond what is normally believed. 


What if you could prove that there is one gift above others that makes people happy?  And what if that gift were flowers?  This question led to groundbreaking research, which set out to achieve the following four objectives. 

  • Drive consumers to professional florists to purchase flowers. 
  • Increase consumer awareness that having flowers in their surroundings can make them happier people. 
  • Establish SAF as the industry leader in cutting-edge research and consumer trends. 
  • Empower SAF members with knowledge and marketing tools to locally promote the impact that flowers have on people’s lives.


To keep the branding as fresh as the product.

With the increasing number of gift ideas and the prevalence of the Internet in gift buying, professional florists must be creative in their efforts to compete for consumers’ disposable income. 

To provide valid, scientific emotional research.

In order to ensure valid empirical evidence, Ogilvy PR and SAF located Dr. Jeannette Haviland-Jones, one of the world’s premier researchers on emotions.

To execute public relations programs that promote flower sales from professional florists, as well as provide innovative research to SAF members.

SAF is the only association that represents the entire floral industry.  It was therefore imperative for Ogilvy PR to provide cutting-edge information to its members. 


“If you knew for a fact that flowers make the world a better place or make your loved ones better people, having flowers would be necessary for all emotionally intelligent people.” - Dr. Jeannette Haviland-Jones

To make the True Power of Flowers program a reality, Ogilvy PR and SAF sought the counsel of Jeannette M. Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Rutgers, psychologist and internationally recognized authority on the role of emotional development in human behavior.  Participants in her research were studied before and after receiving gifts of flowers in a scientific study developed by Dr. Haviland-Jones.

Researchers trained in identifying facial expressions went to the homes of 147 women and noted their reactions as they received one of three gifts, a flower arrangement, a fruit basket or a scented candle.  Fully 100 percent of the women who got flowers exhibited the broad, excited smiles associated with true happiness, while 8 percent of the fruit recipients and 13 percent of the candle group flashed polite, less-than-genuine grins.  Dr. Haviland-Jones interviewed the women before and after the gifts and found that the flower group felt more enjoyment and less anger and guilt in the days afterward than did the other women.  Flower recipients also reported a greater boost in overall life satisfaction, in part because they proceeded to socialize more than the others. 

The Rutgers University research processes included: focus groups, one-on-one interviews, questionnaires, and facial muscle and verbal expression coding.  The 10-month behavioral study also included “control” gifts in order to ensure true results. (A complete summary of the methodology is included in this entry’s supporting materials.)


Through the True Power of Flowers program, Ogilvy PR and SAF underscored the emotional impact flowers have on women, illustrating the facts through a 10-month behavioral Life Satisfaction Study completed at Rutgers University.  The study headed up by Dr. Haviland-Jones proved four scientific predictions:

  • People who receive flowers demonstrate extraordinary amounts of joy and excitement, and are more likely to interact with family and friends more often. 
  • The presence of flowers extends feelings of happiness. 
  • People share flowers and place them in open areas of their homes, marking “shared space.” 
  • Once people understand the impact flowers have on happiness, they will purchase flowers more frequently.

Research results were promoted to SAF’s key consumer audiences, including:

  • Members of the U.S. floral industry:  growers, wholesalers, shippers, suppliers and professional florists 
  • Primary floral purchasers:  women ages 24-49 
  • Secondary floral purchasers:  men 24-49, women 50+


Ogilvy PR utilized the results of the research study to develop and execute a series of  public relations tactics which included the following:

  • Press kit, including research results, press release, methodology, charts and backgrounders distributed to 2,000 health, lifestyle and home reporters 
  • Bites and b-roll package, distributed to every television newsroom via satellite and three newsfeeds 
  • Satellite TV tour featuring Dr. Jeannette Haviland-Jones in the 16 top U.S. Markets


The True Power of Flowers program successfully achieved its core goals:

  • Consumers are reading about the power of flowers.  Coverage to date includes more than 60 TV segments in the nation’s top markets, including stations in New York, Los Angeles and Washington; the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle and other top daily newspapers; and national women’s magazines including Allure, Cosmopolitan, Fitness, First for Women, Redbook and Self
  • The research results were the first to scientifically prove the emotional influence flowers have on people.  All four predictions were proved to be true. 
  • The results have fueled the industry with new and exciting news about its products, as well as educational information to communicate to consumers.   
  • Due to the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the study, new funding was secured for research in 2001 to explore the emotional effects of flowers on America’s growing senior population.
The results of the study – with collateral materials including posters and table tents are being packaged for SAF members for local marketing