Emotional marketing: Get ready for more ads that move you in 2017

Click to play video: 'Emotional ads becoming more common as Canada celebrates 150th birthday' Emotional ads becoming more common as Canada celebrates 150th birthday
WATCH ABOVE: Expect to see more marketing campaigns that move you in 2017, thanks in part to Canada's 150th birthday. Emily Mertz reports – Jan 9, 2017

You may have seen the ad. It may have even left you a bit misty-eyed. The video is making the rounds on Facebook and occupied an entire two-and-a-half minute commercial break during the NHL Centennial Classic broadcast.

Instead of focusing on food, President’s Choice’s latest marketing campaign, #EatTogether, highlights how food can bring people together.

According to the agency behind the spot, Canada’s 150th birthday was the perfect opportunity to delve a little deeper.

“It’s an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on who the country is and who we are as Canadians,” Angus Tucker, executive creative director at John St, said.

“PC… as one of Canada’s biggest and trusted brands – we were trying to figure out what role can President’s Choice play in this celebration and reflection of who Canada is, which led us quite easily to the role that food plays in all of those things that make us Canadian.”

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READ MORE: Fireworks on Parliament Hill to mark start of Canada’s 150th year 

As of Jan. 9, the ad had been watched on Youtube more than 1.2 million times.

Tucker says the response has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

“We just thought it was an opportunity for President’s Choice to actually encourage people to get to know each other again and connect with each other on a deeper, more personal level.”

This likely won’t be the only ad this year to tug at your heartstrings. Thanks to a huge birthday for the country, marketing is expected to take an emotional turn.

“Historically, we’ve seen a lot of really cool brands tie into Canada’s brand or nationalism or sources of pride and 150 is definitely one of those nostalgic ideas that brands are going to try to attach to,” Jared Smith, principal at Incite Marketing, said.

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Smith has noticed a general decline in traditional advertising methods and a trend towards emotional storytelling and leveraging themes like Canada’s 150th birthday.

“A lot of the change has resulted in a decline in that direct solicitation, the aggressive sale, and there’s more storytelling and emotional connectivity happening.

“Having nostalgic connection is one way that storytellers often really connect with their audience and allow the audience to start telling their own version of what that could look like,” Smith said. “We’ve seen that with brands like Tim Hortons, beer brands – Canadian, for example – where they try to tap into that nostalgia or national pride.”

He’s also seeing more marketing projects incorporate social media to encourage people to engage with the campaign.

“This idea of ‘experience’ is powerful. We’re seeing brands extend experience through traditional advertising but also through events. They’re creating experiences online through their social channels and they’re encouraging their audience and the practitioners of their brand to go out and create their own experiences and then tell those stories.”

READ MORE: 2 Saskatoon videographers make $150 count by handing out winter wear 

RBC’s #Make150Count campaign is doing just that. The company is giving thousands of young Canadians $150 to make a difference in their community.

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“We’ve got Peace in Alberta who used her $150 to give to a home and buy art supplies and movies,” RBC brand marketing manager Cassandra Cook said. “We have a wonderful story… around Jonathan in Ottawa who used his $150 to put on a World Juniors viewing party at CHEO [Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario] knowing how difficult it is to be in hospital over the holidays, which was really special. We had Serena here in Toronto who did a wonderful photo campaign around empowering women.

“It’s really been enlightening and inspiring to see what these young Canadians are coming up with to give back to their community,” Cook said.

And it all leads back to Canada’s big birthday.

“There’s a lot to be excited about this year,” Cook said. “Canada’s 150th is going to be an amazing anniversary and an amazing milestone for our country. As Canadians, we do have a lot to be proud about and I think that really holds true about why RBC launched this #Make150Count campaign – to ignite that national movement.”

Tucker anticipates other big Canadian brands will also try to weave the 150th birthday celebration into their marketing.

“I think that you are going to see more prideful, more emotional kind of storytelling for a lot of brands.

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“The trick in that case is, if everybody is doing emotional storytelling, how do you come up with a unique take?”

“It needs to be authentic,” Smith stressed. “I think brands need to think about: ‘what stories relate to our brand that position us properly but also that are true? True to who we are as a company.'”

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