Tears and terror – what it takes to get noticed these days

I often marvel at the lengths some advertisers will go to, to try to create an emotional connection between people and a brand.

Last year’s VW Polo Dad ad – is a case in point. Fathers I know were communing on Twitter over the fact they’d cried. 

I understand the value of a real, personal link for a brand, especially in a world where people are faced by more and more choices and less and less differentiation. But there’s just something faintly distasteful about  ads whose success could be measured with a precipitation gauge.

I’m not immune. I shed a tear at the ‘Always a Woman’ John Lewis ad. But blatant jerking of tears is starting to feel a touch cynical – and I’m not just reacting to the brand’s desecration of The Smiths.

It’s false. And after you’ve dried your tears and admired the cleverness you begin to spot a formula. The nostalgic song covered in a breathy voice with an acoustic guitar and echo. Playing to the frazzled emotions of the new and sleep deprived parent (surely the most vulnerable shopping audience possible). And once you’ve spotted the formula, like the Four Chords song from Axis of Awesome, you can’t go back. You see it everywhere.

So what did I learn today?

A contact shared with me what worries him about his business and gives him nightmares. But this not your usual ‘mare. Oh no. This is a sweaty flanked, eye rolling, spittle drenched, out of control stallion rearing with flailing hooves immediately above you.

He shared a video called The End of Britain.Watch it advisedly. It took me out for a day.

Beginning with the iniquitous birth of the welfare state in 1909, it proceeds to show you, in ever heightening tones of horror, how this country is facing debt of such awe inspiring proportions, worsening by the minute and accelerating at a dizzying rate, that we now match Weimar Germany. No country has ever recovered from such debt. And what lies ahead of us is certain, and total, financial, political and social collapse. Armageddon, according to MoneyWeek, is coming my friends.

And what small solace did this video offer? Well, buy a subscription to MoneyWeek magazine and you’ll find out…..!

Abject, eyelid-peeling-back, crawl into a corner and gather your loved ones about you, terror. To sell a subscription. Well maybe to also warn us ‘altruistically’ about our certain fate. Although it left me so stunned and despondent at the magnitude and inevitability of it all, that I think this weekend a trip to Survivalists-R-Us is in order. Unless I can talk my family into selling up and leaving this country before they close the borders.

If squeezing tears out to create a connection feels uncomfortable… Terror? To sell magazines?

I have to say I very nearly subscribed. But, not having much to invest, I may spend the money instead on a book on self sufficient farming – and a gun.


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