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Getting all emotional: how sentimentality can be a winning strategy for brands

The boy on the bike is back. Hovis appeared back on our TV screens with a big budget, high gloss ad campaign bringing back its iconic theme, complete with a nostalgic soundtrack and a positive message, championing the push to get more children outside.

According to Hovis, the inspiration for the new campaign was the growing fears of parents that their children are stuck indoors rather than enjoying a healthy, adventurous outdoor lifestyle. The modern touches in the new ad, such as the nod to video games and the CGI technology used in the ad to create the house that won’t let the boys get out, are a clever addition to a classic and well-loved campaign.

The other reason that the ad works so well is its use of sentiment: not only in the story itself but by playing on the emotional link that exists between Hovis and the public, due to the popularity and impact of the original ‘boy on the bike’ campaign.

Much has been said about the role that emotion can play in marketing and advertising, a theory that’s been proven over recent years by brands such as John Lewis, which always manages to pull on the heartstrings during a certain festive season. In the years following the financial crisis, a great deal of emphasis has been placed on the negative end of the emotional scale: the need to save money, what happens if you forget to insure this, or can’t afford to go on that long-haul break etc.

This trend is understandable: it would be insensitive and short-sighted for brands to ignore the real struggles facing many consumers and their attitudes towards spending and getting the best deal. However, there is an argument that now is the time to discover the power of positive again.

How about not only making campaigns about what customers can afford, or how to protect themselves, but focusing instead on the things they love and how the products and services the brand offers help to celebrate and preserve these things? When Designate developed the ‘Look after what you love’ identity for LV=, a campaign that has seen sales increase by 696% and more than tripled its market share, emotion was the major driver for the new brand. By building an identity and messaging around things that really matter to people, you can establish a connection that is easily remembered and becomes personal and important to each consumer.

Music is another key factor: LV=’s iconic theme song is often the first thing that springs to mind when people think of the brand, and Hovis have also played on this by including the soundtrack from the original ad in the new campaign.

It’s this focus on what resonates and stays with people that translates into success for brands, rather than using the fanciest new technology or trying to impress audiences with an onslaught of facts or statistics. Sometime, keeping it simple and emotional wins the day.

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