Totes Emosh: The Rising Trend of Emotional Advertising

- Advertising

So they’ve done it again. John Lewis’ annual Christmas advert has pulled on the heartstrings of the nation with their animated adventure, debuted for a whole commercial break during X-Factor, and at an estimated cost of £400,000. This is just part of the claimed £6 million marketing campaign that combines the platforms of television and social media to frenzied effect.

I have been studying the Christmas campaigns of John Lewis since 2009 when they were experiencing struggling sales and could not seem to shake off the Middle England, middle of the road, middle class public perception. 2009 was the year in which they, working in a fantastic partnership with ad agency Adam&Eve/DDB, turned everything we know about commercial advertising on its head.

Beautiful, lavish and scenic images are laced with stripped back, haunting vocals; a combination that pierces our psyche and stimulates that warm, fuzzy glow that we associate with feelings, family and familiarity – perfect for the commercial consumerist chaos of Christmas. The sentimentality of John Lewis’ annual adverts is poignant, a peaceful break from the clutter of brands jostling for our attention, and our sales, using loud, noisy and vibrant marketing in an attempt to break through to our consciousness.

Adam&Eve/DDB went the other way, and have provided us with emotional advertising; journeys and stories told so beautifully and executed gloriously. Brands take note – this is how we identify with a brand because it connects and engages with us in such a primal, deep way – to be with our family and friends at the most special of times.

With well-known songs being arranged acoustically and with such clarity on the vocals, the adverts have even introduced the newer generation to classic pop songs. In 2010, Slow Moving Millie covered The Smiths’ iconoclastic Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want and last year Gabrielle Aplin took on the mighty Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

The winning formula has only been slightly changed this year with the introduction of animated characters (who John Lewis have even given their own Twitter accounts – how very 2013). Heavy dose of sentimentality? Check. Evocative and melancholy song? You got it, in the form of Lily Allen covering Keane. Advert going viral? 100%. This equals another successful Xmas campaign for John Lewis, with You Tube views going stratospheric.

There are always going to be the cynical, bah humbug types who see through the adverts. And so many other brands are doing similar campaigns to the point of luxurious visual overload. No one however, does it quite like John Lewis, and nor should they.

I say, just sit back and enjoy the ride, and let the story, imagery and aural spectacular slowly filter its way into your mind. Can’t wait to see what they will come up with for Xmas 2014…

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