“Sadvertising” – What Is It And Why Is It So Damn Popular? - CRAFT Media | Digital

“Sadvertising” – What Is It And Why Is It So Damn Popular?

Strike the heart, not the head.

That’s the essence of a recent examination into a growing advertising trend Fast Company swiftly dubbed “sadvertising.”

It doesn’t take much guessing to grasp the meaning of the term; it’s a reference to the shift in advertising towards long-form, emotional, storytelling narratives.

Think about it. Perhaps the most anticipated Super Bowl ad this year wasn’t about an impromptu goat purchase gone wrong. It was a goose bump inducing spot about the friendship between puppy and horse.

This trend is about creating storylines that people want to watch, not feel forced to endure.

It’s about telling relatable narratives that make people say, “Hey, that could happen to me, and if it does, that brand will be there for me.”

Enter Guinness.


That sentiment of brand trust transcends commercial branding. It’s made its way into one of this cycle’s most heralded political ads.

The notion of pursuing emotional connections with viewers and users is nothing new to CRAFT. We’ve long pushed our clients to create meaningful, shareable content; content that inspires and pushes traditional norms and boundaries. Because when content makes you feel good, you want to tell the world.

CRAFT recently hosted a two-panel discussion, CRAFTing Creative, centered on the intersection of creative and politics. Arising from the conversation was an idea that people don’t always remember exactly what you say, but they do remember how you make them feel.

This lies at the very root of “sadvertising.” Emotional ads don’t necessarily make you run out the door to buy a bar of soap or vote for a candidate, but when the time comes to make a purchase or cast a ballot, you’ll remember how you felt watching that spot.

Despite the elegant play on words, CRAFT Partner Brian Donahue is weary of the term “sadvertising,” (rather preferring sentimentising) fearing the insistence that a story must be sad to elicit an emotional response:

“In politics, we must be equipped to hit all emotions on the sentiment scale.”

Humorous reactions can stimulate equal levels of brand trust, a pillar we touted by parodying the notorious “Dollar Shave Club” commercial.


Now, here’s the catch. According to PJ Pereira, chief creative officer at Pereira & O’Dell, “there’s nothing more dangerous in advertising than following a trend.” In his experience, “any time you see a trend…it’s about to die.”

So we leave it to you — Is “sadvertising” the flavor of the day, or here to stay?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.