Join the dark side
Let’s play a little game and count how many briefs we come accross that mention either optimism or happiness . “It’s because we are a positive brand. We see life on the good side. Glass half ful, etc.” Say the brand manager. But as a result of this trend, lot of ads now quite poorly try to ‘own’ (if such a thing is ownable), optimism and its related cousin, happiness. These ads are easy to spot, they always have happy people in them. And sometimes they even sing.
Only a very limited number actually succeed. I can think of Coke with the Coke side of life, this GTAesque ad.
Or the new Happiness Factory website, that you just have to check out. NOTE: this is not just the long ad. It’s an interactive experience based on the ad. And very well done.
And there was some exhiliration watching the gorilla the first times.
Anyway, my point is that brands should start looking at other values than happiness, and optimism alone.
Why? because everyone is doing the exact same thing. And when everyone says the same thing… No one says anything. Although I do understand the rationale, from a client point of view: if my brand has an optimistic message, it has more chances to be liked by my audience. But I’m afraid this is not as simple as that. Especially in our digital societies.
And not everyone wants to feel optimistic, happy and nice.
Some brands have started this trend. Like Scion in the US:
Their website is insane btw:
Burger King’s communication have always been pretty border line. Although they won’t take credit for it, they mandated a production agency to come up with some stuff for the king, like this one:
If you want to communicate optimism and happiness, you might have to do it through a different set of new values. Territories like revenge, loathe, jealousy, saddness, guilt, regrets…
Take a look at the best Disney movies. Snow white, Bamby, Lion King. Pretty heavy stuff happens to the hero. His mum / dad dies. They get rejected and isolated from their community or family. Shit happens.
Although there always is a happy ending (what would have our kids become otherwise?), the viewer builds the emotional connection and bonding with the hero when this one goes through the bad times, the crisis. And enjoy the final result, he finds his parent again, prince charming arrives… And they can live happy ever after.
Now if there only was the live happy ever after bit, how boring these movies would be? Well, about as interesting as most ads on TV these days. Which is really not a lot.
I’m not saying here to add a bit of blood and guts and bit humour in your ads. But to realise that an optimistic message is often delivered by communicating unoptimistic situations.
Look at Apple 1984 again.