There was a time in the not so distant past when funny ruled advertising. Whether absurd and awkward, sharp and wry, or broad and ball-busting, comedy in all its forms was the dominant language in marketing. Then something changed. Quietly at first, then in a more pronounced fashion. In the beginning, certain people (not us) would find themselves discreetly, incredulously, wiping a tear from their eye while watching an ad online. These individuals might blame things like new parenthood on the lapse in steely resolve. “It’s nothing,” they’d say, brushing off the moist impact of a touching story, adding a defensive reminder that, c’mon, they weren’t made of stone!
But then, things began to escalate. The ad-induced tears flowed across the land, and even diehard cynics started admitting to welling up over commercials. And these weren’t just your public service announcements, carefully crafted to emotionally manipulate you into action on issues that were already emotional powder kegs. These were spots for shampoos, for Internet services, for banks, for soft drinks, for retailers, for peanut butter, for beer! They were contemplative, moving, and all scored with the Piano Chord of Emotion. Even Super Bowl viewers were no longer safe from baldfaced lunges at the cockles. Pretty soon the promise of a good cry became an engine of social sharing.
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