Have you noticed? Lately, it seems like Adland has turned into a magical country populated with friendly unicorns. Being a bit cynical there; it’s actually been great seeing so much positivity in advertising. But what’s the story with that?
Let’s poke around some environment factors. The economy is picking up. We’ve all heard how the recession is over and all is good at last. Are brands showing positivity because they actually feel positive? Are they delighted to see their sales go up and responding with an explosion of joy balloons? For some reason, it seems like too easy an answer.
Let’s look further. There is a lot going on in the world right now. And it’s not all pink and bright. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the political atmosphere worldwide is (gulp) tense. Maybe we all just need a break from the bleak stuff we see in the news. It’s not about turning a blind eye; it’s about remembering that we still have reasons to smile. It’s about balance.
Now for the detractors of the happy 2015 bubble.
Using happiness as a message isn’t a new concept. And to some, it simply means a brand doesn’t have a real message and therefore shows babies and puppies. Some call laziness and lack of creativity. The thing is, a lot of brands don’t actually promote happiness but values associated with happiness that reflect their purpose. Friendship. Inclusion. Empowerment. And what’s so wrong about that? Happiness is a lazy advertising way only when it has nothing to do with the purpose of a brand.
As Adweek points out, what’s new is the level of personalisation these messages come with this year. Brands invite their consumers to create their own pieces of content that can be collected and turned into an ad. For example, YouTube encouraged women to make videos about what they’d say to their younger selves in the #dearme campaign. And it works.
The real bad news is: if these campaigns exist, it means we still need them. You don’t promote happiness if everyone’s already happy. You don’t fight for gender equality unless there are inequalities. As the Gawker Coke prank showed, there’s still a lot of progress to be made.
That being said, I am delighted to see that our industry is more than ever trying to inspire.
On the subject, read also: Adweek – For brands, 2015 is shaping up to be the year of positivity.
Watch the positive ads we’re on about:
Ad Council: Diversity and Inclusion with “Love Has No Labels”
Youtube: Empowerment with “#DearMe”
McDonald’s: Love with “Pay With Lovin’ “
Coke: Happiness with “Make It Happy”
Android: Friendship with “Friends Furever”