On September 11th 2013, Thai mobile company True Move H posted a video to YouTube, which has subsequently gone viral with over 11 million hits. This three-minute film has been described as the biggest tearjerker of all time.
The emotional advert centres on a noodle vendor and a young boy who has been caught stealing medication for his sick mother. Attracted by the pharmacy owner admonishing the boy, the noodle vendor pays for the medication and gives him some free soup.
Fast forward thirty years and the noodle vendor is still working on his stall with his daughter, still displaying his generous nature. Suddenly, he collapses and is rushed to hospital where his daughter is presented with a bill amounting to c. £15,500. To pay, she’s forced to put their home on the market. However, when she receives the final bill, she’s surprised to find the charges are £0, with a note saying the account was paid thirty years ago with three packets of painkillers and some soup. The doctor, if you haven’t already guessed, was that young lad.
The final tagline on the advert is ‘giving is the best communication.’
Viewers around the world have commented on the video, describing it as ‘beautiful and inspiring’ and ‘so emotional.’ So how did this happen? When did corporate videos start giving movies like Titanic a run for their money?
The Changing Nature of Corporate Video
Let’s be honest for a minute. Traditionally, corporate videos had a reputation for being rather boring. Marketing departments went for the safe option – it worked, it was easy, not too risky, and therefore their jobs were safe.
However, over time this view has changed. People have realised that safe doesn’t inspire conversations. Safe doesn’t challenge people to think harder or to change the way they think altogether. Safe doesn’t inspire people to action. Because safe doesn’t make people feel anything.
People aren’t moved by a data dump of information, the facts and figures surrounding products and services. People are moved by emotion. What corporate videos have traditionally lacked is a good story and an actual person’s point of view. In other words, something to inspire a genuine human connection.
What we’re seeing now is the emergence of corporate videos that connect with audiences on an emotional level – a rediscovery in the art of emotion, storytelling and heart, something with a true human dimension. Because we’re social creatures by nature, we’re naturally drawn to stories with which we can connect.
The Power of Storytelling
The power of story has long been backed by psychologists, who have found that our attitudes, values, hopes and fears are all influenced by stories. Moreover, the more involved we are with a story, the more that story affects us.
When faced with a video full of dry facts, we can be critical – perhaps even a little sceptical. However, hit us with a story that captures our attention, that we can relate to, and we’re moved emotionally. We drop our intellectual guard, thus allowing the message behind that story into our consciousness, unchallenged.
This is why, in the world of corporate videos, storytelling is all the rage. Rather than present us with the reasons we should invest in their latest product, businesses are telling us a story. By using emotion, they’re giving their company a human dimension, demonstrating a personal side, and encouraging people to engage with them. And within that story, they’ve embedded a clear message about their philosophies.
True Move H has provided us with an excellent example of just how effective this can be. By telling a story we can all relate to, they’ve ensured their video has been shared around the world, reaching the maximum possible audience – encouraging long-term growth and brand loyalty in the process.
Corporate videos are telling stories that engage the full spectrum of human emotion, but today we’re concentrating on the tearjerkers. So – tissues at the ready – let’s look at some other corporate videos that will make you cry.
Expedia: Find Your Story Series
Travel has long been one of the most emotional products to sell. Travel is an assault on the senses, leaving us with a wealth of sights, sounds and smells, as well as memories and experiences to bring home with us. Capturing a few of those emotions in an advertising campaign is a simple yet effective way of advertising travel.
In its Find Yours campaign, Expedia has captured the diversity of travel stories with the humanity of experience, combining a physical journey with a personal, emotional journey to which we can all relate.
Two videos from this campaign in particular have resulted in people reaching for the tissue box:
Find Your Understanding tells the story of retired businessman Artie coming to terms with the fact that his daughter Jill is gay. The short video charts his personal journey from reluctance to understanding and accepting his daughter for who she is. He speaks of being won over by their love, when he flew to attend her wedding in California, thus showing how travel can change your perspective and be a transformative experience.
Find Your Strength tugs at the heartstrings in a completely different way. Here we see cancer survivor Maggie taking a trip to Dallas to speak at a fundraising event for St. Jude’s, the hospital where she fought her battle against disease. She speaks of the incredible bond she formed with a young boy called Odie, who was unable to win his battle, and his fearlessness in the face of death.
Again, Find Your Strength, is about more than one sort of trip: it recounts a physical journey, and one that was emotionally transformative. It also has a charitable aspect, as Expedia made the video with St. Jude’s and offered to match all donations up to a total of $250,000.
BA India – A Ticket to Visit Mum
Doubtless inspired by Expedia, British Airways has recently produced their own tearjerker, aimed at the Indian community living abroad. It tells the story of an Indian mother in Mumbai, separated from her son since he left for New York at the age of seventeen. British Airways tells her they will transport his favourite meal, okra parathas, to him. She sets about making it, while recounting stories of her son growing up. However, they send a very special messenger to collect them.
Full of bright colours, the elegant cinematography captures a vivid sense of place, thus capturing the beauty of travel. However, it’s also a very personal love letter from a mother to her son, which will elicit a strong reaction from anyone who has ever been separated from their family.
Huggies Latin America: Father’s Day
Finally, Huggies’ Latin American branch released an emotional video this year in celebration of Father’s Day. So how does a video about nappies bring people to tears?
The simple answer is, it doesn’t. Instead, Huggies found a way to include fathers-to-be in the experience of pregnancy by creating a pair of pregnancy belts that replicate any movement the baby makes in the womb, thus allowing the father to feel their baby kicking.
In showing the results of the experiment, Huggies doesn’t need to advertise its nappies. Instead, it’s demonstrating its human side, and showing an understanding of the very human emotions surrounding parents-to-be and new parents across the world.
The Connection Between Video and Emotions
The common factor in each of these videos is that the story told is one with which we can all relate. And this is the key to corporate video storytelling: to tell a story that has a human dimension to it, something we can all relate to. Because a good story can deliver a message, but a great story can inspire.
Advertising’s journey to embracing the art of emotion and storytelling would have been much more difficult without the use of video. This is because video can impart a far greater amount of information than any other medium can in a single second. This flooding of information encourages an emotional response – a knee-jerk reaction, if you like – before any message can be processed.
It’s therefore no surprise that advertising’s move towards storytelling has coincided with an increase in the use of video.
Does your business have a good story to tell?