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As brands opt for sadvertising, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry

Just over four years ago I wrote a blog about how by 2015 technology would be all around us to provide consumers with gladvertising.

Well, we are not all flying around wearing jet packs as was probably predicted would be the norm by now back in the 60’s. Also, we don’t pop tiny sized pizzas into the Black & Decker Rehydrator for a few seconds to get a full size meal, as was predicted in Back to the Future 2 (set in 2015). So, along these same lines, I’m not sure how much gladvertising has actually taken off yet.

I’ve certainly not noticed any digital posters shouting out personalised buying messages to me as I walk down the high street yet, but maybe that’s because I’ve got my headphones on… Or maybe Leyton High Road doesn’t quite have enough of the ABC1 demographic to make it a worthwhile investment for advertisers to put the technology there.

But not to worry, because before we cheer everyone up with gladvertising (that is still definitely in the pipeline), I recently read about how certain brands are currently focussing on sadvertising to generate new business instead.

Sadvertising is where brands use a negative emotion such as sadness or fear in a way that it will actually create a beneficial association for a brand. This is not necessarily a new concept – charities have been using this method for as long as I can remember in order to elicit donations. However, it’s not been quite so common for everyday brands to go down this route to drum up business. Traditionally the thinking would be that associating a brand with a positive emotion is the best way to shift more stock.

A few years ago I remember this advert from Thailand going viral globally on Facebook, extending True Move’s brand awareness well beyond the Far East. Maybe they should have organised a tie in with Kleenex or something where you get a free box of tissues to dab your eyes with as you sob uncontrollably at their advert whilst choosing their mobile phone network.

Whatever methods companies use to promote their products in the future, I’m sure we will all be in for a whole rollercoaster ride of emotions along the brand journey. But as things stand at the moment I just don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

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