Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The emotional sell

As a viewer/ reader of advertising, I find that, despite our best (or worst) intentions, very little of it is genuinely emotionally affecting.

That's not surprising - you know that advertisers are deliberately setting out to manipulate you for their own ends, and that puts up some fairly high wall. Generally, only the most sincere and thought-provoking ads can surmount them.

Often, it's big budget ads with lush visuals and immaculate sound-design that manage to do it.

But the other night I was late back at work, trying desperately to find something to distract me from the fact that it was the third night in a row I'd eaten pizza, when my eye chanced upon this:

It kinda hit me in the guts. It's the back page of a Rivers catalogue (Rivers is a bottom-end-of-the-market clothing store that specialises in rural-style clothing). It's ostensibly trying to recruit retail assistants. But the top testimonial, the one about 65 year old guy with the downs syndrome son, is what makes me feel good about Rivers.

He started work there in 2002, when he would have been about 60. There aren't many places that would hire an unskilled 60-year-old. And anyone who's known somebody over 50 who's lost their job and can't get another knows just how devastating that can be.

But maybe the reason it works so well as a piece of communication is simply that it looks inadvertant - I suspect they weren't actually setting out to tug my heartstrings, just to demonstrate that they'll hire people from broad range of demographics.

I'm not sure. But it's the first piece of advertising that's moved me in a while.

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