Amazing what you can do with a little creativity

Sometimes I get down writing this blog.  I feel like all I’m doing is criticizing the crap that passes for commercials, political or otherwise. I really look forward to the days I get to praise a commercial because that’s why I really write this blog to find ads that are praise worthy that can stand as examples of the best of commercials.

A friend sent me this PSA for Sussex safer roads, “Embrace Life.”  I talk a lot about making an emotional argument, that facts aren’t as important as connection, that your visuals should tell a story.  This spot has all those elements.  It’s visually interesting, keeps you guessing at what’s going on, well executed, and emotionally powerful.

The image of the wife and little girl clasping their hands around the dad is striking and moving — it stays with you, and works as a powerful metaphor for what a seatbelt represents.

The real emotion you feel watching helps ground the spot and counters the surreal conceit of the spot.  You don’t dwell on the strangeness of the situation (why is he driving in his living room, that’s not real), you’re able to suspend disbelief and go along with the premise because it’s compelling emotionally and there’s enough velocity to take you through to the end.

And another thing, the spot doesn’t feel preachy.  Often times spots like this can feel holier than thou, trying to make you feel guilty or shamed for your bad behavior. That will almost never work, it’ll just box folks into a corner.  This ad goes another way.  It doesn’t argue facts with facts or stab with guilt, it tells a story with emotions to try and connect to the viewer.  People who don’t wear seat belts will give you a a rational rationale for their behavior, and if you try to talk to them about the merits of their argument, they’ll gladly argue, but you wont change their opinion with facts.

Feelings come first, facts, rationales, reasons come second to explain our feelings — change the feeling, and you don’t need facts, people will seek them out to rationalize their new feeling.

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