Posts Tagged ‘Emotion’

There was a time in advertising when everything was sung.  When little ditties sold everything from Miller Time (“beer after beer”) to Marvel the Mustang (“he’s almost for real!”).  Today, aside from licensed tracks from known artists, no one sings a story anymore.  And I can’t help wondering if maybe we’ve walked away from a very powerful source of emotion.

Last Week, No One Knew Susan Bayer.  But This Week...

Last Week, No One Knew Susan Boyle. But This Week...

By now, a huge part of the world knows about Susan Boyle, an unemployed forty-seven year old woman living outside London. This clip, posted only six days ago on YouTube, has already racked up nearly twenty million views–it jumped nearly three million overnight.

Chances are, you’ve seen this.  But even if you haven’t, you know the drill: a highly-unlikely nobody appears on a popular TV program to a chilly reception from Simon Cowell’s panel of snide taste meisters and then, unleashing a voice that channels the glory of angels, proceeds to stun the judges, win the audience and knock the smirk off Simon’s well-moisturized face.  You know this drill because Susan’s story repeats, nearly beat for beat, the story of Paul Potts, the unassuming mobile phone salesman from South Wales who dreamed of singing opera professionally (and apparently, now does).

Ty Pennington does this same kind of thing yet for some reason I resent his stories.  Week after week, he tells yet another deserving family “you give so much to this community, this community wants to give something back to you” and later bellows “move that bus!” into a megaphone so the givers can finally see the cornucopia of product placements Extreme Home Makeover has whipped up that week.  I always feel manipulated and cheap, regretting any sentiment these stories generate for being so cheaply summoned.

But Susan’s story–and of course Paul’s–feels different.  Both live in that artistic realm of music, a humanity that serves no practical purpose and yet stirs the soul and calls up emotion like little else in our world.  When this many people around the world find themselves powerfully moved by nothing more than the simple act of someone opening their mouth to sing, it might be time to reconsider our reticence about commercial jingles.  Because genuine emotion is a powerful, powerful thing.

And yet, take another look at that photo…  Consider Susan’s honest, unglamorous face…  Maybe what moves so many of us about this clip is not simply her gorgeous voice, but the surprise that someone as unassuming, as unpolished as herself, can create such raw, palpable beauty.

That’s the real ticket.  In a pinch, I’ll always put my money on surprise.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

PS:  Today, viral fame can build with an almost terrifying ferocity: an addendum.

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Someone Dial Up The Fixx    

Someone Dial Up The Fixx

A friend of mine makes a very convincing case for why we may look back on the whole Facebook phenom as something on the order of  the early 21st century’s Members Only jacket.  At this moment, we are all caught up in the novelty—the constant status updates, the endless movie, music and cultural trivia quizzes, even the emerging etiquette debates around friending that drive daily life around Facebook. But one thing most adults agree upon is that it is a massive time suck.

And that ultimately, may be what causes this white hot trend to cool somewhat: at a certain point, the benefits of all this new light connectedness may no longer outweigh the investment it requires.  Or more probably, in a world with seemingly infinite opportunities for distraction, this particular one may lose it’s novelty.  My friend makes a reasonable point.

But one need Facebook seems uniquely suited to fulfill became extremely obvious yesterday.  The number of continual updates and comments surrounding the Inauguration was stunning.  Dozens of people around our agency left their pages up all morning, commenting and building and sharing on each new thought someone posted regarding this historical event.  People wanted to participate and Facebook provided an outlet for all that emotion, all that desire, all those hopes and dreams and wishes.

So even if Facebook does prove to be the Members Only jacket of the current moment, a number of us will probably drag it out again sometime down the road…like when we walk on Mars.  Or learn that someone we don’t really know did something that stirs our better selves and highest hopes for our species; you know, like landing an Airbus on the Hudson.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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How many times have you heard or read that?  In an idea-based industry, some on the business side exert this flat-footed bromide with unhelpful zeal, sure of the immutability of this truth.

And you know what?  It is true, perhaps even immutably.

Yet ironically, while it may not be a plan, hope can certainly be a business asset.  The promise of something better ahead fuels cosmetics, fashion, food, luxury and any number of other categories’ marketing.  obama-hopeWhether conscious or not, we buy certain things to increase our sex appeal, to project a seemlier aesthetic, or even to demonstrate that we are part of a smarter set.  Hope builds brands.  We just inaugurated a President who made hope one of his fundamental platform promises.  Love him, hate him, or plead disinterest all around; among everything else Obama’s election represents, his campaign proved once more that hope can be a genuine motivator to civic engagement.  And thus a good asset for the business of government.

Of course, the challenge of building a business on hope lies in actually delivering results, whether you’re selling a wrinkle cream or a new direction for foreign policy.  We will have to wait and see about that.  And like every consumer of this type of message, we will be hoping for the best.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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