The big ad world has gone soft. The biggest-spending Fortune 100 advertisers in the recent Super Bowl and the current Winter Olympics have created ads that would make Hallmark proud.
Moms and toddlers. Puppies and horseys. Paraplegics and loved ones. America The Beautiful (sung in gasp! different languages!) All designed to tug at heartstrings and handkerchiefs.
It’s a curious turn of events, since not very long ago, big advertising dollars were being spent to look edgy and snarky. Irony was in, sincerity was out, and you weren’t a cool advertiser unless your spot was the video equivalent of an arched brow.
Why the turnabout? Here’s Fatt Lipp’s theory: Social media—and more to the point, the ad world’s response to social media—is at least one driving force.
Back in the olden days (like, say, 2011), the Internets were replete with smooshiness. Incessant kitten videos (“I Can Haz Kitteh?”). Toddlers doing aDORable things. Heartfelt Facebook greetings and responses. And at cool ad agencies from Flatiron to Frisco (apologies, SF; the alliteration worked), hip young creatives snickered at the saturation of social schmaltz. And as hip, bleeding-edge young creatives are wont to do, they zagged—into a Fringe-esque alternate universe of irony and snark.
Fast forward. Social media has evolved. Especially with the advent of Twitter, which gives every living soul a platform for pith, a giant wave of quick wit—or feeble attempts at same—has swept the social mediasphere. (Your Twitter feed today is likely to contain dozens of snarky little wisecracks.) And agency creatives, aghast that snark had jumped the shark and their M.O. was being co-opted by the great unwashed, have zagged again. Into the marshmallow universe of puppies (Bud), toddlers (P&G) and inclusiveness (Coke) that the populace was abandoning.
An over-generalization? Sure. But hey, a 300-word blog post isn’t going to be a sociology thesis now, is it? So, that said, is there any basis to this theory? What do you think? I’d like to know.