When to be serious – setting the right advertising tone

  • 1
  • August 04, 2014
commonwealth

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
―John Holmes

Every brand has an advertising tone: Paddy Power loves to shock, John Lewis to comfort and Disneyland to inspire. However, there are more general rules surrounding advertising tones which have been tried and tested to the point that they are pretty much solid foundations on which to build your campaign ideas. 

Humour doesn’t work with charity. The British sense of humour is globally renowned, but it doesn’t seem to stretch to ‘serious’ subjects. A charity or health organisation advert which combines a serious message with a ‘funny’ tone, storyline, or slogan, risks undermining it’s message and being proclaimed bad taste. For example, there is an extremely pertinent reason why Comic Relief is a combination of humorous sketches and intermittent, serious films: The combination of Ricky Gervais in full ‘comedic’ flow and real-life disability is an obvious example of a tonal experiment which has never and should never be, carried out by the BBC.

Conversely however, even the greatest cynics seem to accept a serious, emotive advert for certain subject matters. Again, non-profit advertising is definitely one. Another seems to be sporting events. In 2012, the UK was carried away by a wave of uncharacteristic sincerity and enthusiasm for the triumphs and tears of the London Olympics. And Glasgow 2014 has been no different. A games campaign placing banners with inspirational sporting moments around city has not only met with admiration, but, more remarkably, has been left thus far un-graffiti-ed. This, in the city famous for it’s aesthetic enhancement of the iconic Duke of Wellington statue, is testament to the effectiveness of emotive advertising for certain subject matters.