Transcendent Advertising

Have you seen the most recent spot for Thai Life?  I saw it on Facebook and a quick search reveals millions of views and shares.  And with good reason – it’s brilliant.  It’s the third in a series of work by Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok and it depicts, like the other two, “ordinary” people doing extraordinary acts of kindness – not for acclaim, remuneration or anything self-serving, but out of love and the opportunity to transcend.  “What he does receive are emotions. He witnesses happiness. Reaches a deeper understanding. Feels the love. Receives what money can’t buy. A world more beautiful.”

Over the years, I’ve worked on life insurance campaigns – both as a marketer and a copywriter – and while it’s not hard to communicate the need for life insurance  in financial terms (which by the way these spots adroitly avoid doing) – it’s pretty hard to get people to feel emotional about it without feeling manipulated.  In my first job as a copywriter, I was assigned a brochure selling life insurance to women.  It was an interesting proposition, and after reading all the research that tells us women have interrupted, often shorter careers and earn less then men, it struck me that we were talking less about money and more about value.  I think the admittedly pedestrian headline I came up with was, “For all you do.”


I’m always a little uncomfortable using intensely emotional triggers in advertising because it can very quickly become maudlin, crass, and manipulative.  And while people may reach for the tissues, I reckon that deep down they know they’re being put through the wringer all in the name of selling a product. But the Thai Life ads feel different to me.

I’m sure these ads began life as a creative brief somewhere with specifications around how they wanted people to feel after seeing it, and how that supported the stated goal of the advertising.  I’m also sure that there are success metrics behind these campaigns around policies opened and premiums generated.  It is after all an insurance ad.

But I think Ogilvy succeeded on a higher level with these ads.  They raised the bar for all of us in marketing and remind us to connect with our customers, understand what motivates and moves them, and develop creative concepts that do that respectfully and with great humanity.

And not a little green lizard in sight.


P.S. – Can you imagine if we had 3:00 commercials in the US?



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