WHO CARES IF IT SELLS, IS IT SENSITIVE?
England’s, Guardian reports that American advertisers are using warm and fuzzy, social-sensitive advertising campaigns to appeal to liberals across the country. It’s no longer adequate to communicate an advertiser’s benefits, but for their younger, liberal target audiences they must say or imply, “We’re like you,” We believe in what you believe,” “Let’s be friends” and yes, “You’ve been treated unfairly.”
One ad celebrating “eco-warriors” comes from a very unusual source, the car company Kia. In the ad, actress Melissa McCarthy is driving in a Kia car when she gets a call to “save the whales,” and other endangered entities. It’s a funny/cute execution, but gives no rational reason why one would actually BUY a Kia automobile.
In a commercial for Airbnb, the home rental outfit, a message flashes across the screen: “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong.” This is apparently appealing to those liberals who reject President Trump’s proposed travel ban, although I assume that that acceptance does not extend to terrorists, sex traffickers or just downright low-life’s who might trash a homeowner’s offered lodging.
Despite all appearances, these advertisements are not public-service campaigns. The companies using them are virtue signaling through their messaging what they think appeals to more liberal audiences.The increasingly progressive messages in marketing campaigns are clearly a mercenary attempt to entice Millennials, and those in general that are susceptible to emotional appeals versus rational ones.
WILL IT WORK?
According to Rob Baiocco, a creative executive at the BAM Connection who has worked on campaigns for Pringles and Starburst, all of these “issue” ads may warm the hearts of millennials, as they are intended to. But to his mind, they are also “highly suspect”. He highlighted the fakery of their woke-ness: “Companies are avidly and aggressively trying to get involved in a socially responsible space, and they are doing it horribly – they are grabbing at straws.
“They are entering a complex conversation they have no right to be in, yet they are forcing their way in,” Baiocco says. “These creatives are trying to make their toilet paper save the world.
“Sometimes,” he adds, “a Pringle is just a Pringle.”
I’m with Rob on this. Sure, I’m a strong proponent of advertising having an EMOTIONAL tie to the audience (that’s what a “Brand Essence” is, silly). However, I think the audience segments that choose a Kia or stay with AirBnB only because their commercials “melt their butter,” are pretty small.
At some point advertisers need to decide: Are we making a commercial message OR a public service commercial. After all …