Love's in the Air, So Why All the Anger?
Written by: Bernie Pitzel, Creative in Residence, Jacobs Agency
Wife #1: “I don’t think you even listen to me.”
Wife #2: “I just want to take a bath.”
Wife #3: “I feel like it’s just watching me walk around naked.”
Husband #3: “Well, at least somebody gets to.”
Are these lines from an afternoon soap? Maybe they’re from another distraught Lifetime movie? Or perhaps they introduce a melodrama 101 course at a junior college?
Nope. These are all closing lines from current spots for three separate brands: Acura, Sprint and DIRECTV, respectively. Each of these lines is delivered by a spouse whose marriage is seemingly on the brink of disaster. These relationships appear to be rushing towards the cliff. And the thought of sharing data or DVR storage is just one more brick tossed onto the exasperation pile.
When I first encountered these commercials, I was struck with one lingering emotion: sadness. Why is everyone so angry and internally bitter? Yes, each ad is directed, acted and produced beautifully. But though humor is the intent, each spot just left me sad. And these days, who has the budget to spend millions on media and production just to nail “sad”? Experiencing the pain captured in these commercials is as uncomfortable as being a kid watching your friend’s parents fight. It’s a feeling that makes you just want to disappear.
According to Philip Kotler, Ph.D., “while reason does lead us to conclusions, emotions are the ones that lead to action.” [Source: B2B Brand Management, 2006] YouTube superstar and TED conference keynote, Simon Sinek, has made similar claims with his theory that “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
Emotional advertising, or the ability of a brand to connect its value proposition to the personal needs and desires of its target audience, has taken root in the modern marketing communications landscape. Thanks to the industry’s enhanced ability to understand buyers and the personal feelings that impact their purchase decisions, all types of brands across the B2B and B2C spectrum have been successful at appealing to the pathos of consumers and business decision-makers.
So while the goal of creating an emotional bond between the target and the brand is the advertiser’s Holy Grail, choosing the wrong emotion seems to be a path that, instead of forming a bond, just widens the gap. It’s a wonder that Acura, Sprint and DIRECTV didn’t take a different tack. What kind of results do they expect to get when appealing to humanity’s darker side? What emotional purchase decision are these companies hoping to influence by showing loveless couples?
I’m pretty sure that messages of anger and restlessness are going to be quickly discarded. A reaction of sadness, or “that was icky,” is not the most motivating reaction, and doesn’t likely translate to ROI.
Sure, humor is a great creative device to set the hook, but the type of humor leveraged by Acura, Sprint and DIRECTV ventures into the desperate side of the human psyche. I’ll take a smile over a grimace any day. And I’m sure a glimmer of hope works harder than a hint of despair.
But here’s the thing, dark humor can work if done right. For example, take a look at the new Healthy ChoiceTV spots which feature people whose lives have been derailed by fad diets. The tone of each commercial is moody, but by dramatizing the length to which consumers will go for a diet, Healthy Choice gets people to laugh at themselves. They’re able to make fun of their target audience in a way that actually resonates! They created an emotional connection.
In the end, the most memorable ads are those that effectively seduce the consumer into feeling good about a product or brand. Anger doesn’t make anyone feel good about anything. And as an emotion, it creates barriers, not bonds. And when you’re spending millions on advertising that creates barriers, that should make any CMO, well, angry.
CREDIT LINE: Bernie Pitzel is the Creative in Residence at Jacobs Agency, the award-winning, Chicago-based agency that helps companies untangle their business problems through marketing communications. Pitzel has been the creative force behind famous campaigns such as Gatorade’s “Be like Mike” and ATA’s “On ATA, You’re on Vacation.”
How AWS helps NASCAR delight its fans
AWS needs no introduction to readers of Technology Magazine but we rarely get an opportunity to look closely at how it serves the sports sector. All major sports draw in a huge supporter base that they want to nurture and support. Technology is the key to every major sports organization and enabling this is the driving force for AWS, says Matt Hurst, Head of Global Sports Marketing and Communications for AWS. “In sports, as in every industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence and high performance computing are helping to usher in the next wave of technical sports innovation.”
AWS approaches sports in three principal areas. “The first is unlocking data’s potential: leagues and teams hold vast amounts of data and AWS is enabling them to analyze that data at scale and make better, more informed decisions. The second is engaging and delighting fans: with AWS fans are getting deeper insights through visually compelling on-screen graphics and interactive Second Screen experiences. And the third is rapidly improving sports performance: leagues and teams are using AWS to innovate like never before.”
Among the many global brands that partner with AWS are Germany's Bundesliga, the NFL, F1, the NHL, the PGA Tour and of course NASCAR. NASCAR has worked with AWS on its digital transformation (migrating it's 18 petabyte video archive containing 70 years of historical footage to AWS), to optimize its cloud data center operations and to enable its global brand expansion. AWS Media Services powers the NASCAR Drive mobile app, delivering broadcast-quality content for more than 80 million fans worldwide. The platform, including AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaStore, helps NASCAR provide fans instant access to the driver’s view of the race track during races, augmented by audio and a continually updated leaderboard. “And NASCAR will use our flagship machine learning service Amazon SageMaker to train deep learning models to enhance metadata and video analytics.”
Using AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning, NASCAR aims to deliver even more fan experiences that they'd never have anticipated. “Just imagine a race between Dale Earnhardt Sr and Dale Jr at Talladega! There's a bright future, and we're looking forward to working with NASCAR, helping them tap into AWS technology to continue to digitally transform, innovate and create even more fan experiences.”
Just as AWS is helping NASCAR bridge that historical gap between the legacy architecture and new technology, more customers are using AWS for machine learning than any other provider. As an example, who would have thought five years ago that NFL would be using ML to predict and prevent injury to its players? Since 2017, the league has utilized AWS as its official cloud and ML provider for the NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS) platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field. “One of the most potentially revolutionary components of the NFL-AWS partnership,” says Matt Hurst, “is the development of the 'Digital Athlete,' a computer simulation model that can be used to replicate infinite scenarios within the game environment—including variations by position and environmental factors, emphasizing the league's commitment to player safety.”