marketing minute

Marketing Minute: Sadvertising

It’s always interesting to see what tricks advertisers are coyly employing in their campaigns. I’ve recently read a really well written and interesting Fast Company article, where writer Rae Fera points out that while not too long ago “funny” was the way most advertisers chose to direct people to their ads, lately the trend has been going another direction – by making customers cry.

Fera cleverly calls this trend “sadvertising” and describes it as emotional commercials and ads that hope to stir some sort of reaction out of customers to build a bond, relationship or, at the very least, association that will result in increased traffic

What’s really interesting is how simple the idea really is. Any effective strategy aims to create a story, a character or situation that you can relate to or root for. For example, the commercial below shows a man and his dog sharing good moments while at the end they show the dog waiting for the man and ends with the voice-over imploring everyone to think about their friends waiting for them at home before they think about drinking and driving . Cue the tears (no? just me?).

A simple idea that can’t help but stir a reaction that helps you connect with a story and ultimately (possibly subconsciously¬†) a brand.

Noted by Fera, one of the commercials that started this recent trend of “Sadvertising” was a 2011 Google commercial titled, “Dear Sophie.” In the commercial, ¬†a new dad chronicles his young daughter’s life through gmail. You watch it and you find yourself tearing up (unless you’re a cold-hearted robot). This might not seem remarkable, you see a sappy commercial and it makes you cry. But in reality, it’s commendable and genius advertising.

A commercial that is essentially selling an email service can genuinely make you cry. Brilliant.

What’s interesting about this trend is not that it’s novel; the idea of creating marketing and advertising that relates to your customer to engage them in your brand is nothing new. However, the difference now is that companies aren’t always in charge of their marketing anymore. If I watched the commercial above and it really touched me (which it did), I’ll be more likely to rewind and watch it again or to pull it up on YouTube for other’s to see. I’m exposing more people to it and building an (unconcious) bond or at the very least positive association with a brand which can one day potentially result in me becoming a customer for said brand.

But does it work? Will I go buy a six pack of Budweiser anytime soon? Probably not. But maybe? And that “maybe” is enough to make it worth it for advertisers. Of course the trick for advertisers and marketers alike is how to create content that connects with your customers on a real emotional level without feeling gimmicky and intentional. It’ll be interesting to see how long this trend lasts and how effective it proves in the long run.