Dumb Questions

Two months ago a representative of a research institute came to our agency to present methods and technics in qualitative and quantitative research (they also track social trends and attitudes). She spoke about social (and personal) positive values, and consciously ignored negative ones. "Consciously" - she said - because consumption, capitalism, advertising, and clients don't like negative emotions or negative values: they increase consumers' anxiety.

At the end of the meeting one of our creative directors expressed her doubts about the answer given by the researcher.
We spoke a little bit more about it and then... back to work.

1) In the evening I happened to see the Dove ad again (beauty perception)
2) The week after I received the December issue of Admap with the article "Sad-vertitsing"
3) Some days ago I read Russell Davies post "blurry" where he writes that for brands to become interesting they will have to be willing to "embrace negative emotion".

Negative emotions will probably be a good place to look for inspirations: I'm not the first one, and I will not be the last one to say that.

What is interesting, in my opinion, is what it seemed to be the "dumb" question: why not use negative emotion?

Could we say that:
The dumber the question,
the fastest the answer,
the strongest the assumption,
the bigger the opportunity?


piets said...

From what I understand from your post, and realized after giving your statement some thought, is that advertising only uses positive emotions to advertise their products which is quite true. Firstly, we must start from the point of view on what is a positive emotion and what is a negative emotion... in other words, a negative emotion for me may not be a negative emotion for someone else... for the sake of discussion lets take into consideration generally accepted "positive" and "negative" emotions.
There are two, aspects that I think should be observed when discussing "negative emotion advertising". Adversing as what you mean here is limited to a brand that advertises itself either on TV, or on paper. But there is in my opinion another type of advertising which is technically not advertising, but at the end of the day probably helps sell the product that does use negative emotions... I am referring to musical albums specifically to record covers. Only recently have certain musical artists started to promote their records on TV, in the past record sales were boosted by concerts, radio and by what the group represented and to convey this to the public they used the album cover that until the advent of the CD, was a rather large format in terms of decorative space. Leaving aside a musical analysis, I am quite sure that music such as Punk, Heavy Metal and Goth, has been able to sell itself through album covers and most of them contain "negative emotions". For example an upside down cross, fire and skulls is a negative and strong concept that youngsters would be attracted to especially knowing that their parents would frown upon them the moment they walk in the house with that record under their arm.

Another aspect that I would like to point out is a sort of "official" and "non official" advertising (I don't know the technical terms so I ask your forgiveness). There is a very famous clothing brand in Italy that became famous, firstly for the name which is rather negative, secondly with prints on t-shirts that range from being considered obscene to instigation to become a delinquent... this is what makes the product sell, and this is the "non -official" advertising. Then however on the hang tags or on the books showing the clothing collection that mentions "no to violence" "no to drugs" etc.. and explains how what this brand writes on their garments is exactly the opposite of what they invite their customers to do.... So at this point I ask myself, what makes this brand sell the "positve" emotions" or the "negative" ones?

Marband said...

I think your parallel with music is very, very interesting and generative because it shows that sometimes people want and pursue negative emotions. Let's just think about melancholy or sadness! How many times we cried (or felt uncomfortable, at least!) listening to that song? We choosed it, and probably we paid to have it.

As to the album covers and t-shirts mentioned in your comment, we should probably think about their ability to convey "transgression".

To transgress you have to infringe rules. You are looking to schock people (rules guardians) or to differentiate from them (actually accepting different rules established by a different group).

However, buying those albums or T-shirts, I think you never feel negative emotions, but a sort of gratification (does it make sense?).

Actually I'm thinking about the possibility to find gratification in sadness too (but perhaps I'm over-complicating!!!)
I will think more about it!
Thanks again for your comment!