Brands are pulling your heart-strings | PDD

Brands are pulling your heart-strings


on December 14 2011

Brands are purposefully pulling on our heart strings by giving consumers a fast-forwarded take on history. Advertising in particular is using the ability to reminisce as a powerful marketing tool. For example, the 3rd washing machine in the John Lewis advert above conjures up memories of a particularly sticky drawer that was really hard to open thanks to the congealed washing powder residue left in the roller fittings.

Image credit: PDD (poster ad at Hammersmith Underground, Copyright: John Lewis)

In a time when purchasing decisions are so calculated and predetermined, brands are working towards making consumers think about objects and ultimately their products with love. John Lewis in particular was responsible for a little rise in tissue sales thanks to their genius initial tear-jerker ‘never knowing undersold’ advert.  In the ad the viewer was left watching the rapid lifespan of a ‘typical’ John Lewis customer – with good old Uncle John Lewis always being by her side watching out for her.

This use of nostalgia has so far been a powerful escapist tool which has helped John Lewis’ Department store sales excluding value-added tax (VAT) rise by 5.3 percent.

Even Kleenex were obviously hooked and saw the immediate potential of the ‘heart strings’ factor – making  their own take on the ad – fast-forwarding through a mother/daughter relationship with handy Kleenex always being available next to the sofa.

Credit: Youtube/Volkswagen Copyright: Volkswagen

It was interesting on Saturday then, that (and I’m only a little bit ashamed to admit) Volkswagen had chosen to  pay  the premium X Factor advertising spot to premiere their new ‘Think Blue Symphony’ orchestra advert. The friendly, cheery, semi-animated illustrative video shows how our old friend – the VW has evolved through time, even making their newest lines of cars seem part of the old, loved family. An interesting observation from the one minute video was that the historically masculine automotive obsession was completely gender neutral – removing the usual speed/money/girls (delete where applicable) codes that feature so heavily in car advertising.

With the relaxation of product placement rules in the UK (see Coronation Streets brand new Nationwide kiosk) and Morgan Spurlock’s ‘The Greatest Movie Ever Sold’ concentrating on the product placement business it will be easy for consumers to let down their guards and let product purchasing decisions to become diluted by more invasive advertising.

Image credit: ITV

So the message for consumers is to be aware of these newer, more sneaky advertising tactics – don’t fall for emotional ploys and be alert to unusual product cravings – particularly trips to Nationwide cash-points. Take a step back and decide what you need or want for yourself without the help of Uncle John Lewis, Auntie Kleenex or Cousin Volkswagen.