Sad-vertising; turning tears to $$$

By Rebecca Taylor

There’s always been sad commercials. Maybe a dog gets left at home, and we watch it stare at his owners vehicle retreating into the distance. Perhaps a baby is in the hospital with cancer, her parents looking for hope in a cup of coffee. These are the types of commercials that you share on facebook, and they’re part of a type of advertising called “sad-vertising.”

Sad-vertising uses pathos in ads, in an especially impactful way. It aims to “to create an emotional attachment with a brand or product by tugging at viewers’ heartstrings.” An example of sad-vertising is the 2014 ad “Unsung Hero” created by director Thanonchai Sornsriwichai for a Thai life insurance. You’ve probably seen it. The main character helps others with little acts of kindness, totally selfless in his motivations. It’s a tearjerker for sure, and I think even my grandma has seen it.

Thanonchai Sornsriwichai explained his reasoning behind the newly popular type of advertising, saying that to sell things you have to present reality. There’s value to that. Thai advertising companies made over $30 million in profit solely  from online campaigns, proving that money can be made from squeezing the emotions out of the public. Much of advertising is about presenting an ideal, an ideal that is typically totally unrelated to real life. Advertising strives to sell us things we don’t need by making.They make them believe that X product will make them X more beautiful/successful/rich. And that’s honestly just the structure of the beast. But consumers are more aware of this strategy and growing resentful. Sending out ads that not only sell a product but show really heartwarming scenes that make people want to be better is the way to go. Online sharing making videos viral, and sharing quality videos is the only way that product/brand is going to sell.

Heartwarming videos are the way to people’s wallets. And, in most cases, their hearts.

Karacs, Sarah. “Sad-vertising: Thai filmmakers carve out a niche online.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 17 Feb. 2017. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.

“‘Sadvertising’ Pulls On Consumers’ Heartstrings — And Purse Strings.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 28 Apr. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.


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UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism