The need for serotonin advertising

January 7, 2014
January 7, 2014 MediaStruction

The need for serotonin advertising

I’m detecting what may be an ironic trend in video content. The interruptive content, i.e. the advertising, is more emotionally sticky, more audience-connective, than the “entertainment” content it interrupts.


Hear me out.


Television and movie programming is more violent. It just is. Even program names make me squirm: “Breaking Bad,” “Bullet in the Face,” and “American Horror Story.” According to the Parents Television Council, broadcast TV depicted 345 acts of gun violence, 161 attacks from bladed weapons and 38 from blunt objects in 2013. A woman was burned alive on “Sons of Anarchy.” When the “Die Hard” and “Terminator” movies were first in theaters in the 1980s, they were given R ratings. Now, with even more rapid-fire gun sequencing, even more violence, they are rated PG-13. (below is promo photo for mid-season replacement, “Black Sails.”



This doesn’t even begin to discuss racism, misogyny and overall ignorance of “reality TV.”


So how do marketers respond to this context? By swinging the pendulum in the other direction. Have you seen the “Home for the Holidays” Apple ad? You can view it here. In my informal survey of 20 mom friends, nine of out ten cried watching this. Couple of the dads, too. Seriously, it’s a tear-jerker ADVERTISEMENT.


Or check out this WestJet airlines Christmas Miracle commercial, viewed on YouTube nearly 35 million times in one week, with comments like “Faith in humanity restored” and “happy cry.” Never heard of WestJet? I hadn’t either until this campaign went viral.


Interestingly, I wonder if this trend shows up on any kind of qualitative study, as advertisers research market and messaging positions. Nevertheless, advertisers should pay attention to the opportunities this phenomenon presents, not only in messaging but social media, PR and all the other “gray” areas difficult to measure. While television and movie content producers are feeding the apparent need for salaciousness, advertisers have the opportunity to save the day with serotonin advertising.


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