Sadvertising: I’d rather feel bad than feel nothing at all

Over the past year, a number of cultural commentators have made coined the term ‘sadvertising’ to describe campaigns that work to produce an emotional response, albeit one that is not necessarily positive, in order to connect with potential consumers. Here is a short piece that appeared last summer in The Guardian, that talks about the rise of ‘sadvertising’ that suggests that it is both a way of connecting with audiences and a way of showing that company has a conscience. In the words of one of the people interviewed for the article, this has to do with the new patterns through which consumer messages reach people: “Imagine how much more important a brand message is if it’s been shared from you to me rather than me just seeing it on Facebook … and emotional content can really help people be inspired to share.”

Still from the Budweiser ad 'puppy love', an example of 'sadvertising' at work.

Still from the Budweiser ad ‘puppy love’, an example of ‘sadvertising’ at work.

Closer to home, there was a good deal of discussion about the campaigns launched by two of Canada’s biggest airlines over the holiday season: Air Canada and WestJet. Although a number of other companies have also adapted this kind of approach. Or this advertisement for beer, which is quite different from the usual visual language of advertisements.