Feverishly jotting down ideas in a funky glass-panelled conference room, Thailand’s “Mad Men » are doing what they do best — creating tearjerker adverts that leave viewers scrambling for the tissue box.
So-called « sadvertising » has exploded around the world in recent years as brands jostle to engage customers and stand out from competitors.
An annual nostalgia-tinged Christmas commercial from retailer John Lewis has become a festive tradition in Britain, while Budweiser’s Lost Dog pulled heart strings and swept advertising awards in the US.
But few places are doing it with such devastating efficacy as the Thais, where the adverts are often as gruelling as they are memorable.
To outsiders Thailand advertises itself as the Land of Smiles, but it’s more emotionally complex than that. The Thai language has more than one hundred phrases that use the word heart — jai — to discuss a whole gamut of emotions, while its soap operas are renowned for their notoriously tragic storylines.
The same is true of adverts. One recent spot, for a lingerie brand, pivots on a woman diagnosed with cancer on the same day she discovers she is pregnant, leaving her with the heart-wrenching choice of risking the baby’s life with chemotherapy, or her own.