By Tarun Chandy
Today, something unusual happened. I saw an ad campaign for the first time and felt like it had a significant impact on me. It went beyond engagement. It made me partially reconsider the way I want to live my life. I was inspired. And yet, I find it hard to believe that the exact influence it had on me was in any way the client’s intention.
The campaign in question was the Compare the Meerkat series. I’d only heard rumours about the ads in the past, and came upon them today while doing research. And the funny part is, I didn’t understand what the ads were for or what the overall message was even supposed to be, initially. But when I saw the way those meerkats were fawning over their adopted baby, I felt certain of something. That, at some point in the future, I would like to be a father.
I’m sure that seems like rather an extreme reaction to an ad involving meerkats. The truth is, I’ve always been less than enthusiastic about growing up. And, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever reach a point where I might be capable of supporting another human being. But, this ad made me recognise the value of the paternal experience, in a way that no cheesy movie or cats in the cradle song ever has. And I couldn’t possibly tell you what it was about that, seemingly average, finance ad that made me feel so disrupted.
I suppose that’s what marketing experts call Accidental Impact. Or am I making this up? You’re probably too lazy to do a quick google search. I know I am. So, I’ll just proceed with my explanation. Accidental Impact is like when soldiers leave mines buried in the ground, and civilians get killed years later. It’s completely coincidental. You’re in the right place, at the right time, in the right mood. You see the right message. It triggers the right thought. And boom. Impact.
The best part about moments like these are how unintentional they seem. You don’t feel like one of the sheep, being led in the direction advertisers chose to take you. You hope that it only had the impact it did on you, because you thought about it differently. But today, I began to wonder, what if there really are no accidents in advertising after all. Ad platforms know far too much about our browsing history as it is. So, what if every piece of media we come across is there for a reason. To keep us doing what they want us to do.
What if the entire point of the meerkat advert was to influence my generation. A generation that is collectively veering further and further away from the idea of traditional families. What if, by convincing us that we all need children, they are guaranteeing that we will all need larger houses, larger cars, and as a result, more credit. And this will lead us all to their site, and to other realms of the finance industry, for years and years to come.
Who’s to say how much of the media we consume is part of this elaborate scheme, and how much of it is accidental impact. Maybe we’ll never know. And maybe we don’t need to know. Maybe sometimes, it’s okay to just enjoy the ad.
The copy scores 73.1 in the Flesch Reading Ease test