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Sadvertising: How Emotion Can Trigger Viral Trend on the Internet

idea@work - Sadvertising: How Emotion Can Trigger Viral Trend on the Internet. #blogpost
Sadvertising: How Emotion Can Trigger Viral Trend on the Internet

Remember when Thai insurance ads are bombarding us with tear-jerking videos? The commercials were short, sad, and somewhat heart-warming. The video itself is a very effective advertising gimmick. Dozens of Thai ‘sad’ insurance ads were uploaded and shared anonymously on YouTube, complete with subtitles and whatnot.

The success behind the Thai insurance ads is: emotions. Humans are a very emotional creature.  Psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott discovered that happiness and sadness makes us wants to share, connect and empathize. So it’s only natural when we want to share something that makes us cry or feel strong emotional feelings.

If we can generate sadness (so to speak) or empathy, it’s a sure way to make people wants to contribute, act, and share. The gimmick to make people cry or sad is not something new. In the past years, many brands tried to delve into our emotional feelings through several ways, and mostly they are successful in doing so. The gimmick is called: Sadvertising.

Sadvertising is a Meaningful, Feel-Good Marketing

Last year, a woman hygiene brand called Always launched #LikeaGirl campaign. The ad powerfully evokes the effect of gender stereotyping on girls. The ad ended with a call to show that “Like a Girl” phrase is something awesome it is awesome when you think about it. Usually “Like a girl” phrase is an insult towards certain action. When you do something “Like a Girl” it means that you are weak. Always wanted to do something different by changing “Like a Girl” phrase into something empowering to women all around the world. The result was a touching and engaging video that promote social changes. In just few weeks, #LikeaGirl campaign created a viral sensation with millions of tweets, worldwide trending topic, and thirty million YouTube views! The video create the feeling of happiness, hope, and sadness at the same time. It’s a work of genius if you think about it.

idea@work - Sadvertising: How Emotion Can Trigger Viral Trend on the Internet. #blogpost
Sadvertising: How Emotion Can Trigger Viral Trend on the Internet.

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Knowing that Sadvertising is somehow an effective gimmick, many brands wants to get into our emotions. More than that, they want us to know they care about our well-being and social conditions, so narcissistic and obvious sales-pitch is out of the way.

Marketing and advertising need to be more meaningful and ‘emotional’ to create a natural engagement with the consumers. Isn’t it better for insurance companies like Prudential or AXA to raise awareness about cancer or AIDS rather than bore us to death with their premiums? I think its better when banking companies to show that they care about our social well-being rather than throwing out the obvious gimmick like increase your deposit to get a prize.

Let’s take a look at another example; remember Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign? Last year, Dove released a series of videos. One of the videos called Real Beauty Sketches (the most famous one) shows a group of women are told to describe their selves to a sketch artist. Then the artist would create a sketch based on the women’s description and other people description of themselves. By the end of the video, Dove successfully created a very touching look on women’s beauty. Dove managed to show many women in the world that they don’t appreciate and love themselves enough. The result is not bad either; Dove ‘Real Beauty’ has racked up more than 60 million views. Rather than showing standard ads with beautiful models, Dove used everyday people to create a grounding image of beauty.

idea@work - Sadvertising: How Emotion Can Trigger Viral Trend on the Internet. #blogpost
Sadvertising: How Emotion Can Trigger Viral Trend on the Internet.

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“Imagine how much more important a brand message is if it’s been shared from you to me rather than me just seeing it on Facebook … and emotional content can really help people be inspired to share,” Sam Barcroft, founder of digital media firm Barcroft Media, agreed that emotions in marketing or ads play a big role in today’s society.

Sadvertising is practically different, it’s not run-of-the-mill advertising. Sadvertising cannot be on a simple, short format like in the television ads. Sadvertising needs a long, substantial build-up to create an emotional response from the viewers; therefore internet is the perfect media to create Sadvertising.

It’s also important to note that Attitudes towards business are transforming. Gen-Z and Millenials expect that companies and brands to make a positive difference in the world, so narcissistic ads are hardly working with the younger audience anymore. So if you want an ads or marketing with huge impact, try to create something emotional and meaningful.

Meaning over Gimmick

“Taking a stance on an important issue and making a positive contribution are exactly what a brand should be doing in today’s world,” says Kate Cox, a managing partner at communications firm Havas Media.

However, creating a social-good ads or campaign is not a guaranteed success. People are not stupid; they know when a brand creates a genuine contribution to society or when they only use social-good as an excuse to create a meaningless gimmick. You see, it’s all about meaningful and positive contribution to society, if you’re just riding with the trend, people just simply won’t buy it.

Meaningful marketing could be reached through relevance and substance. Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign fits perfectly with the values of the brand. Therefore, the campaign seems genuine and relevant to preach about women and beauty in particular. Imagine if Dove talked or created a campaign that centered on gay rights or poverty, the campaign would lack relevance and substance, even legitimacy.

So it’s important to remember when creating a sadvertising, you need to find the core values of your brand so the campaign will create relevance and substance that will resonate naturally with the consumers and the audience in general.

Remember that consumers aren’t naive. They know that advertising and marketing campaigns exist to sell something. Advertisers and brands know this as well.  In the end, as long as no one minds that brands or corporation wants to do something good, all is well.