Aspirational Advertising. Oh, and a Podcast..

When trying to tap into human emotions, advertising often has a difficult task.

Making people laugh through comedic stuff like the Pot Noodle campaign or the recent Burger King spots sometimes runs into problems simply because there’s no way of knowing precisely what certain people will find amusing.

I love the Old Spice/Burger King work; I find it hilarious – yet for every one of me, there’ll be a few who are completely alienated by it and dislike the brand.

There’s also probably evidence to suggest that people are becoming more unshockable. However, that doesn’t stop those who advertise for the COI attempting to amaze and horrify us with cautionary tales of how it doesn’t pay to drink and drive or to take drugs.

So…with that in mind (and with more than a nod to Maslow, thank you Mr Colman), why don’t more brands try the aspirational approach in their work? I’ll show you an example below which I don’t think quite pulls it off – though I love the strategic thought:

What did you think of that? Personally, I think the strategy would have been far stronger if the ad had interspliced ‘real’ people with the kids; showing just how imaginative the children can be, and how they are far more creative and aspiring than the adults.

I think a lot of brands don’t paint their products in aspirational terms because it is very difficult to get people to go along with you for 30 seconds, or even longer. Also, given that the public are quite cynical, and that most brands have the subtlety of Johnny Vegas attempting to be a prima ballerina, it’s often a very difficult task.

Now….the challenge becomes to make your brand aspirational without ever directly saying so. All of the world class advertising is able to do this, either via its execution (Sony ‘Balls’), its line (‘Happiness is a Cigar called Hamlet’ / ‘At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise you can hear in a Rolls-Royce is the electric clock’) or its positioning (The Economist, Innocent, John Lewis).

Aspiration should be the fist inside advertising’s velvet glove. More often that not, it’s a poorly aimed and ill-disguised blow with a knuckle-duster.

Oh, and podcast 3, ‘Oh No Cucumber Sandwiches’ is up. Enjoy.