Crafting Inspirational Commercials that Spread Joy and Happiness
Enjoy this roundup and analysis of four emotionally loaded commercials
Sometimes, it can feel like we’re drowning in a media landscape filled with bad news.
But even though sensationalism can sell, as creative professionals, it can be both rewarding and effective to take a more inspirational road when it comes to advertising.
In fact, taking time and effort to give a little boost of joy and goodwill to your audiences may be the best way to ensure you are discovered, remembered and considered.
And what brand doesn’t want that?
Here are three ways to pull the warm and fuzzy feelings into your advertising… and get your audience members smiling – like their hearts have grown three sizes.
1.”A Priest and an Imam Meet for a Cup of Tea” – Amazon Prime, 2016
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Inspirational message: Love and friendship can join us together even in unlikely circumstances, because when you get down to it – we are more alike than we are different.
Why it works: Amazon is a company that’s big on community, as well as transcending borders. Religion can be tricky territory and rarely has a play in advertising, but instead of focusing on the polarizing effect of highlighting their differences, Amazon applies their brand mentality and zeroes in on their similarities.
While watching these two converse over a hot beverage may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the idea that love has the power to connect us all and allow us to transcend our differences – certainly appeals to a deep human need to be understood and joined together in friendship.
How you can do it: Think about what your brand stands for – what are the overarching themes of your products and services? How do these themes help fuel your customer’s aspirations? How can they help inspire them to achieve more in their space? What broader, worldly themes or aspirations of the human race also follow this same arc?
You may also ask your sales or customer service team for inspirational stories from their one-on-one interactions. What are some unique ways that your company has helped someone who was struggling?
These insights can help guide you towards creating an emotional storyline within your ad that is relatable, if not downright touching for your target customer base – many of whom may share the same challenges or ideals.
2. “The Wish Writer” – Macy’s Commercial 2015
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Inspirational message: There is joy in generosity of spirit – and it’s by showing goodwill to others that we get the most.
Why it works: In a season where commercials frequently depict individuals getting their dream gifts, Macy’s character is indulging in the emotional rewards of giving.
Considering Macy’s position as one of the largest retailers in the world, their commercial’s surprising turn towards altruism is made all the more delightful when we connect the brand with a sentiment that goes above consumerism.
By appealing to those who believe that the greatest things in life are free, the view of Macy’s as just another profit-hungry retail machine shifts to a more humanized entity.
How you can do it: Every corporate entity can come up against a stereotype or an outside perception that doesn’t match the true spirit of the business.
By taking the time to understand how people perceive you, you have an opportunity to craft ads that take a contradictory stance. Plus, you also get the opportunity to show off a more accurate depiction of what you’re all about when it comes to how you change lives.
Be aware though, that these stories are best told through the journey of someone other than a company representative. It’s all helping audiences understand your authentic values in the context of their own lives.
3.Your Story Matters – University of Nebraska Lincoln
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Love the voice in this commercial? Learn more about voice actor Kabir Singh.
Inspirational Message: There’s a unique spark in all of us, and with post-secondary education, you can turn that raw ambition into a powerful force that will change the world.
Why it works: The University of Nebraska is selling more than an education – it’s building a campaign based on empowerment. But even more persuasive is how they depict the process in an honest and transparent way, fraught with frustration but balanced by great triumphs. The characters are enabled to create their own process, and as we see at the very end, take center stage in their own lives, no matter who is in the audience.
How you can do it: Ask yourself, “What is the ‘real experience’ of interacting with your brand?”
Your value proposition should be tied to an outcome for your clients. What is the end result that people hope for when they purchase your products or services? How do you deliver that to them? Is it easy – or can it be challenging? What is it about that process that enhances the experience for your customers?
Taking an honest, transparent view into your customer journey – and the outcome that awaits your clients – can provide a powerful underpinning to your ads.
And of course, pay careful attention to the voice you cast to represent your brand. One of the reasons why this ad is so effective is because of the voice over actor’s cadence, delivery and tone – the emotional qualities that he infuses into each and every word helps to put the viewer in the same mindset.
Lastly, this ad also makes frequent use of the word “you.” This is important to note, because so many advertisers feel compelled to talk about themselves – and “what we do” is much less compelling copy when compared to “what you can achieve.”
4. Planet Earth II – Trailer, 2016
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Inspirational message: Nature is vast, beautiful and brutal – and we are just but a tiny part of a diverse planet.
Why it works: This commercial is all about the combination of beautiful shots stitched together against a moving original score. The clever arrangement of drawn out bass notes that rise to a sweeping symphony evokes an emotional roller coaster that brings the viewer from captivated, to uncomfortable to tears of awe. For anyone who was mulling over their own problems, watching raw nature can take you out of your own life for a moment, and put your life in context of a grander scheme.
How you can do it: Beyond investing in the tech and expertise required to get beautiful shots, you can create a similar vibe by carefully selecting the music for your ad. As its own character, how you include music can either enhance or detract from your overall story.
In film, music is a part of the story and there are techniques for conveying mood through sound, for instance, by using minor notes to create alarm, rapid sound to indicate fast movement, and sweeping whole notes to convey the atmosphere around a heroic moment.
Now You See It has a great video explaining classic sound techniques and how they can convey emotion. Watch How Film Scores Play with Our Brains.
Spreading Joy Through Your Commercials is All About Leveraging ‘the’ Story
Business is rarely about the dollar marked bottom line. Yes, money helps – and money keeps business in business. But it’s the impact of your products and services that keep people coming back for more – and it’s the dream of changing lives that helps business owners continue to push through the rough times.
As these commercials show, there’s brilliant value in telling a story with transparency and with your customers’ desired outcomes as top of mind.
So next time you’re building an ad campaign, it just might benefit you to go beyond the sales copy and into your audience’s psyche – to find the stories that lift them up with joy.