The new Chipotle ad is undeniably awesome.

Yet I wonder how many clients would have rejected it, with the dreaded critique "but you're dramatising the negative."

Quite rightly, clients want us to dramatise the positives about their product.

But what I contend is that if you start from a negative - and the Chipotle ad spends about 85% of its duration in a very dark place - then when you do reach the positive (Chipotle uses only real food) you have a much more powerful ad, because you have taken the viewer on a journey. 

An ad that was 100% positive and focused only on the wonderful fresh food and happy times you can have at Chipotle would probably look something like this:



No journey = flat.

Fear of the negative may partially explain why most ad-breaks depict a smiley, fake world that is barely recognisable as our own. And has doubtful selling power.

The fact is that many of the greatest ads of all time were actually very negative.

Apple's '1984' depicted the nightmare of a world ruled by the conformity of IBM.

Guinness 'Surfer' spends 50% of its timelength on the negative of 'waiting'.

And one of my favourite recent ads, for Devondale Dairy Soft, portrays the comically negative consequences of using hard butter.  

So we're faced with a major bummer, my friends.

I do have one tip though.

The secret training course at which clients are taught to reject ads that 'dramatise the negative' - the same course which has a class on 'maximising logo size' - also has a module on 'the power of the problem/solution ad'.

Problem/solution seems to be acceptable to clients.

Therefore, if you can re-frame your ad that dramatises a negative scenario as a problem/solution ad, you may just be able to sell it. 

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