Sunday, July 14, 2024

Does Advertising make you Happy?

As we try to lumber back to the normal lives we lived in 2019, the brands that use happiness as a cue might be the most successful, writes Prabhakar Mundkur

Can advertising make you happy? Of course, it can. It can also make you sad, pensive, frightened and apprehensive. But most often, when advertising makes you happy, it works for the brand or product being advertised. In the HBO show MadMen, set during the boom of the ad industry in the 1960s, Don Draper famously said: “Advertising is based on one thing – happiness”. He wasn’t wrong. He was only advocating something the advertising world has always known.

Honda - Seniors Today

A long time ago, research seemed to show that advertising that was entertaining seemed to be more effective than advertising that was not. Take this ad for the launch of Honda in the United States. It said: ‘You meet the nicest people on a Honda’. There is something so sweet and innocent about the ad. And, after all, meeting nice people is a happy feeling, isn’t it?

One doesn’t want to meet mean people or unhappy people or rude people. In fact, the first Honda ad had a nun in it. And one expects nuns to be very nice! Honda went off to a flying start as a brand in the US.


Coca Cola - Seniors Today

As a brand, Coca-Cola has been pursuing happiness for the longest time. Coke is a happy brand. And it wants to make people drink it happy. Which is why there is always fun and laughter in a Coke ad. And the happiness starts right from the time you are unhappy or in other words thirsty. The pop of opening a Coke bottle or the crack of opening a Coke can and the fizz are the first emotional triggers to happiness.


Just two years ago, Max Roser at the University of Oxford said:The world has more reasons to be happier than ever before. In almost every way: poverty, literacy, health, freedom, and education are improving”. 

In the West, Christmas is one of the happiest occasions and one would say that from John Lewis to every other brand advertising during the festive periodcelebrates happiness and warmth. The trend is even more pronounced in India, which gives itself much more reason to celebrate given the number of festivals that are celebrated here. 

After surveying almost half a million respondents in 2018, the prevalence of positives across the ads we’ve tested has grown too. Happiness is up from 7% to 12%Amazement 4 to 7% and Warmth from 5 to 6%. There’s a huge opportunity for brands to give people what they want and lift the mood of the world as we continue into 2019.” – Rebecca Waring, VP, Insight & Solutions, UnrulyEQ.

Happiness is typically clubbed together with other emotions like exhilaration, inspiration, amazement and warmth.

Source : Unruly
Source : Unruly

In 2018, Samsung’s “Be together” commercial was about happiness. About families celebrating together even if they were geographically apart. Many brands are constantly celebrating happiness. Tanishq, Cadbury’s and a whole range of Indian brands are about happiness. The ads always have smiling faces and happiness writ all over them.

Dairy Milk - Seniors Today

Tanishq - Seniors Today

With the Covid-19 pandemic having created so much sorrow in the world, one can’t help feeling that as we all try to lumber back to the normal lives we lived in 2019, the brands that use happiness as a cue might be the most successful.

The world is more in need of happiness than ever before. 

Prabhakar Mundkur
Prabhakar Mundkur is an advertising veteran, a lateral thinker, storyteller and musician. A coffee aficionado, husband and a father of two, he also describes himself as dogs’ best friend.

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