Emotional Advertising : Has Ebay done this right?

Chuck got it right, you know?

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need”
– Chuck Palahnuik (Fight Club)

And how has the advertising world managed to convince otherwise sane and calculating people to do things as senseless as that?

Elizabeth will enlighten us with the answer.

“Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are slave to your emotions.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia)

Yeah, that’s where they got us.

As School Of Life explains in this video about the Dawn Of Capitalism, advertisements tug at our emotional fantasies and our higher needs of love, self actualization and acceptance and promise to be a solution for it. They lure us with what we most desire and make us believe that it will help us achieve them.

The deodorant that’ll make women swoon over you.

The Fairness cream that is the secret to confidence and success.

The Diamond that defines your love or empowers you as a woman.

But most of the times, the services or products we are provided with have little or nothing to do with our own needs.

That brings me to the latest advertisement by eBay India : Things Don’t Judge


Now people are going crazy over this advert. This has got over 2 million views on YouTube and people actually watch the advertisement again and again.

eBay has hit us right on the spot with the #Thingsdontjudge

Social intolerance is a major issue in the world today (evident with phenomenons like the rise of Donal Trump). It has always been a problem in any social setting. The need to be accepted is universal. The need to have the freedom to choose how to live and make our own decisions have been the basic desires of all humans across the planet.

The representation of a gay couple in the above-mentioned eBay advertisement has people, especially the youth of India commending the effort done by the eCommerce giant to “restore hope in Indian society” (according to a comment on the video).

I see it as a smart (the timing couldn’t have been better with the liberalization of gay laws garnering increased support world over) and commendable decision too. It is a good step towards projecting the idea to the millions watching it on television with their families while tugging them with guilt for judging the people around them for their decisions.

On the surface, the concept seems justified. Live and let live. Who in the sane mind would protest that? It gives us the acceptance we want. It gives us the freedom to be who we want to be. It takes us closer towards the perfect world we want.

Why then, does this leave a bad taste at the end of my tongue every time I watch it? The more I watch it, the more I am concerned by it.

Yes, things don’t judge. But does it matter?

If the problem is judgement and intolerance of the society, then buying things to replace society itself isn’t the solution. It’s escapism.
But isn’t it sending a good message by tugging us with guilt for judging other people? And ironically, isn’t the advertisement judging us for being judgemental?
The ring doesn’t judge you bro, but guess what? Neither you, nor the ring cares. You care about what your partner thinks. You care what people you love think.
Not the world, not the things.

We should be educating the society for a better, less judgemental world, rather than encouraging the victims to hide behind materialistic walls and make a bubble of their perfect world surrounded by things rather than the people or the values they really care about.

Hey, now all these idealistic arguments are well and good. But the point of the advertisement here; the main point – is selling the products – the ‘things that don’t judge’. It’s not a social awareness campaign. It can contribute to social awareness like it has tried to, but the main agenda will always be to SELL.

I refuse to accept that as an excuse. I agree, they need to sell things. And you know what, we need to buy things too. People have material needs. It is a materialistic world and most people have agreed to it. They are always going to shop. What the advertisements should do is, give us the right reasons to buy them.

So could they have done something differently?

I am not an advertising guru, but I can write what I’d like to see.
Rather than a man thanking a ring for not judging his love for another man, I’d like to see a parent/parents (because the older generation has more problems accepting new ideas/ different ideas) accepting the love of their son who has decided the man of his dreams and give a gift as a sign of this acceptance.
Or maybe a grandmother sitting with her granddaughter and selecting what ‘designer lehnga’ to gift her soon-to-become wife.

These ideas also sell their products, don’t they?

Again, I applaud the intent of eBay to represent the different stigmas of our societies and the judgement one feels. I just have a problem with how it is presented.

There are plenty of good emotional advertisements that have sold their products and services while making the world a better place to be in.

I will be quoting from The Content Strategist : The Dangerous Power of Emotional Advertising :

According to documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, “All storytelling is manipulation,” and in many cases, manipulation is just one of the many tools brands can rely on to stand out. But to create great content—with the added goal of driving ROI—they have to tap into a universal truth. That’s the only way to make sure a gut reaction doesn’t turn into a stomach ache.

Advertisements, like all other forms of media (especially visual media) are responsible for how we perceive our relationships, our expectations and have the power to change the mindset of the masses.  I say, let it build the community rather than isolate people from it.

Let me know your thoughts about this. Do you agree, or is it just me being cynical?