A Greater Calling:Appealing to Emotion

With the new John Lewis advert released today, the trade press went haywire analyzing and dissecting the production that this year featured a cute, eager and rather jealous boxer dog. So what makes these adverts so popular? Popular enough for us (including me) to sit back and reflect on them?  I think it has to do with the fact that we are all capable of some emotion, some more than others. For the most, at least for the ones who don’t nitpick on production details, these ads trigger just a wonderful feeling, make our hearts soar and eyes moist, touching us in that very special place. For expats, especially those who live far away from home and can’t be with families, I guess the feeling is more profound. Any piece of content that triggers such emotion rises above the multitude of commercials that barrage our sensibilities day in day out.

What is particularly remarkable is to see the videos being shared in markets that don’t even have John Lewis stores. As a content manager often faced with developing material that appeals both to mind and soul, I always wonder how I can appeal to the basic humanity of people. Is it still possible just through words, when you are not writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul?  How do we develop content that doesn’t have to peddle products or related benefits to make people feel good? Personally speaking, the John Lewis commercials don’t make me want to buy stuff, although that might be the obvious end-result for most. They say that decisions are emotional, not logical.Logic aside,  for me the commercial achieves an elevated role than was intended, one of triggering sweet emotion and people thanking it for the feeling.

Striking a universal chord seems to be what over the years the commercials seem to get right, artfully marrying originality and middle class suburbia that remind you of some place real. Adverts have always been viral content since the advent of video sharing platforms such as YouTube but what John Lewis achieves year on year is truly special. The anticipation, the yearning that is stuff dreams are made of.