This is a copy of my Storify post.
As visual technology and cinematography evolve, people’s expectation for films, commercials, video games, and the like also becomes higher. The modern viewer doesn’t only look for pure information and appropriateness but also care more and more about aesthetic values. Therefore, advertising needs to do more than just educating consumers about the products; it needs to deliver stories and provoke emotions that hit people so hard they will remember the brand. That’s how “sadvertising” was born, or as Rae Ann Fera of Fast Company pointed out in her article, “We can’t just be straightforward; we have to reach people emotionally. Now everyone’s crying.”
While Rae Ann Fera provided a very insightful summary of the “sadvertising” trend, she only mentioned the music effect twice, which I don’t think does music justice. Although music is not the main and unique feature of “sadvertising”, it adds a lot to intensify the emotions and trigger the tears. Talking about tears, I want to bring back this gem from 2011:
If you’re not crying right now, then I have failed miserably. Nonetheless, this is how most normal people react to the ad.
There are several analyses of this ad online, but I like this one because it mentions a distinction in culture that made the ad a big hit in East Asia. Nevertheless, let’s focus on the soundtrack of the ad.
This orchestra piece is the instrumental version of Ee Jook Il Nom Eh Sarang, OST of a Korean drama called A Love To Kill. It started out slow with uneven rhythm, creating a sad and serious feel to the commercial. The pitch range is fairly wide, and it reaches its peak when the ad reveals whether the daughter survives or not, which increases viewers’ sentiment. Similarly, the dynamics a.k.a volume rises to a crescendo towards the end of the video, which shows emotional flashbacks of the father and the daughter. All these musical elements play a big role in affecting the viewers’ mood and enhancing their watching experience, as demonstrated by Nina Hoeberichts in her bachelor thesis.
Her thesis also discussed different types of music and when advertisers use them. In this case, the instrumental version of the song is more appropriate than the lyrical one because the lyric is about man-woman love and, more importantly, because the audience needs to focus on the visual and verbal content of the commercial.
I also tried listening to the soundtrack by itself:
It’s a very nice piano piece, but standing alone, it cannot make me cry. Now THAT is the beauty of advertising: a great story and beautiful background music work together to create a masterpiece.