Dan Ng recently tipped me off that The New York Times had covered a new campaign by Home Depot in the USA which "taps into the weepy side of reality TV". The article, by Stuart Elliott, describes the campaign as a cross between a reality TV series 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' and "commercials for Hallmark Cards"
Elliott says "the intense emotions generated by reality TV, as well as talk shows like Oprah Winfrey’s, are largely because of their focus on so-called real people, prompting marketers like Frito-Lay, Geico, Home Depot and Sears to climb aboard the reality bandwagon".
The lead ad is especially weepy and involves a single mother:
“My name is Amy. Eleven years ago, I was a shy, new single mom, trying to just kind of make it on my own. When I bought the house, and I’ll try not to cry on this one, 15 days after I bought the house, my dad died.”
“He remodeled every house we lived in,” she adds, crying.
Another ad involves an occupational therapist who's been helping her patient (who had suffered a brain anneurism) to remodel her home.
“It takes a lot of courage for someone to get back into their life again,” Tammy says of Phyllis, choking up. “Because of that, Phyllis will always be a hero to me.”
You can see all the stories here.
Some of my English colleagues have found the ads a little over the top, perhaps even manipulative, breaking the implicit contract between consumer and seller (i.e. "I will watch your ad if you are straight with me and just tell me why I should buy the product"). But the Director of the ads, Jeff Bednarz, would defend against accussations of manipulation...
“I think people right now are looking for honesty,” Mr. Bednarz said of consumers, adding: “We are so educated now in watching TV that you know when someone’s being honest, when it’s coming from the heart. As long as you’re pure about it, and not trying to stage it, the honesty will come through.”
I think this campaign is interesting. Although a British audience might need something more subtle, akin in tone to the BT ads that have aired in the last couple of years with the "modern" family. I could only find this example which is cheery, crammed with product message and lacking in tension compared to the others.