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Why You’re Feeling All The Feels: The Sadvertising Trend

You have to tell your brand’s story.

That is (and has been) the buzz in marketing for ages. And it’s completely true – your story separates you from others and it’s how people connect with your company. It also happens to be exactly what video marketing is especially good for. Storytelling. Visual storytelling. Emotional storytelling.

Historically advertising has been funny, clever, sarcastic, or serious, but today we’re seeing a different trend. Top brands are trying to make us cry.

What brands want you to feel

Yep, there it is.

Whether it’s an airline, an all terrain vehicle, a tech company, or even a laundry detergent, today we’re seeing a new approach. Brands want us feelin’ all the feels. Reaching for the Kleenex. Puttin’ on our ugly cry faces.

But why?

Doesn’t a laugh win people over? Encourage positive vibes and brand association? Well, yeah, it does. But something else is going on with the trend now known as sadvertising. And we’ll get to that, but first…

Let’s see some examples already!

In order to understand why you’d want your target market in tears, let’s take a look at what Canadian airline WestJet released just last week. After their Christmas Miracle video, this brand has been pretty consistent with their awesome video strategy, and this tear-jerker is just in time for Father’s Day.

Take a look!

Teaming up with Ronald McDonald House Charity, WestJet sent their customer service agent Medel Villena to take over a hardworking dad’s job for a week so they could send him out to see his son Joel in hospital in Edmonton.

From the sincere words by Medel (who has kids of his own) to the look on dad Marc’s face as he’s told he can go visit his son, this story is packed with real emotion and will likely have you welling up with tears.

WestJet has done an exceptional job capturing the family’s story and showcasing what it means to be a dad.

Additionally, from a branding perspective, they’ve also shown us the values WestJet stands for. It’s not about flights, bookings, baggage allowances, or boarding. It’s about families and taking care of people. WestJeter’s care, and people love them for it. Their video might be classified as sadvertising, but it’s a powerful, heartwarming way to communicate WestJet’s commitment to charity and people. What’s more is that you’re now thinking about who you want to share it with. The share-factor is a major reason this trend is so popular right now.

Let’s see some more Sadvertising

We’ve seen an example about Dad, but what about Mum? Well, fear not. There’s a lot of sadvertising aimed at moms. Another example of a company that’s no stranger to the trend, here’s a video from Unilever about how all love is equal.

You might not be crying, but this spot sure had you watching until the very end. It made you think about your mom, different challenges we all face, and it was powerful.

I should also note, it’s for a line of fabric softener.

Yep. All the brands are doing it.

And in examining the sadvertising trend a bit further it’s usually doing one of two things. Most brands either showcase families (especially parents) in a light that makes you nostalgic or sad, or they have set up a situation. Most times it’s a situation in which someone (or someone on behalf of the brand) does something incredible for others. In some cases, both of these criteria are fulfilled. And that’s a video win, let me tell you.

But the more I looked into Sadvertising, the more I realized it’s not new, it’s just making a comeback with online video being so popular and the emotions being so powerful.

Just look at these older examples from Chevy (2011) and Apple (2010). One sells cars, the other, smartphones, but they’re both using the same technique and driving emotion with video as a medium.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.

My Brand is B2B. What Good is Sadvertising to me?

To this I say, you have a different challenge, but your brand is still person-to-person. This ultimately means that you can create a story that appeals to your target audience no matter what you sell. Because at the end of the day, Sadvertising is really just capitalizing on the fact that we’re all a bit mushy and full of feels.

Don’t believe me? Here’s an example of what I’ll call almost Sadvertising from General Electric (who happens to be crushing the whole video marketing thing):

In this video GE showcases the health technology they’re able to bring to developing nations and remote locations. They’re showing the global good they do based on how their solution helps people and your story (even if it’s B2B) can do the very same thing.

From the raw emotion, to the share-factor, and how Sadvertising communicates an implied voice from your company, there are many reasons why brands are flocking to the trend. It’s bringing lots of new stories to life and I know you’ve got examples to share. Leave us a comment with a link to the Sadvertising that had you in a teary mess. Bonus points if you show us B2B videos!

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