Apple finds a creative spirit in staying home. Facebook makes it seem sad.

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

The discussion around tone in advertising makes for an interesting debate. Even more fascinating is to see two brands take on the staying home advertising message with two completely different tones. Apple’s ‘stay at home’ advertising finds a creative spark. Facebook’s ad makes staying at home seem so lonely and sad. I think I would have liked Facebook’s ad more if I didn’t see Apple’s encouraging ad. 

When dealing with tone in your ads, it can feel a bit like trying to describe company culture. It is hard to explain what you want, but when you feel it working perfectly, you know you have nailed it. And, when the tone feels like it is not working, man, does it suck the life right out of you. 

I believe in finding your cluster of emotional benefits first and letting those guide the tone of your creative execution. 

Apple's 'stay at home' ad

Apple’s ‘stay at home’ ad starts with 10 seconds of isolation shots, and then quickly moves into full-on creative energy, celebrating the human spirit that we see shining through. We see kids playing chess, music, yoga, dance makeup, and art. The final message of “creativity goes on” feels uplifting and positive. Apple’s stay at home message energizes me to keep going.  

Facebook's staying at home ad

While Apple had 10 seconds of isolation, Facebook stay at home ad stretches the problem of isolation out to 45 seconds. It feels very dark. Problem/solution is a classic advertising technique, but I have always believed you should not overkill on the problem. Especially in our current situation when we already know the problem without having the see it again. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still a good spot. Even as the ad shifts to happier people, I still feel a bit of sorrow. Whereas Apple made it seem like the creative spirit is the hero, Facebook is trying to set itself up as the hero or at least the enabler to your happiness. Perhaps after a month of staying at home, I’m now looking for more of a pick-me-up energizing message to keep me going. Have a look:  

Try using our emotional cheat sheet to find the right emotional space for your brand

I see too many brands with the same tone and manner on their brief. Half the briefs I see contain “smart, trusted, reliable and friendly” as the tone. It has almost become clichés without thought. Go grab your brief and see if you have the same cliche word choices. 

Let’s try to do a quick assessment of where Apple and Facebook should land with their emotions. 

Using our emotional benefit cheatsheet below, I would place Apple in the “sense of optimism” with a sense of “feeling free” space. If that were right, then I think Apple’s stay home message nails the tone. 

Where Facebook should play on the emotional cheat sheet is in the “feeling liked” and “getting noticed” space. Being connected with friends at a time like this should be what Facebook is all about. Coming back to Facebook’s stay at home ad, the visuals of the ad work, but the spot feels dragged down by a darker audio track. That music is great, but it might fit better with a spot that salutes our front line heroes instead of a message trying to encourage us to stay home. 

The right tone matters to a spot.

To explore a little bit more on how to find the right emotional and functional benefits, click on this hyperlink

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