By Rachel Morris
It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve got the worst feeling in my stomach. I have a presentation to present tomorrow morning in front of 50 odd people, my partner isn’t available so it’s now down to me. We had a bit of a struggle with this brief. organizing thoughts yadayada and instead of our ideas being signed off, they got killed off on Thursday night. So that accounts for 50% of the nerves but the rest is that when am going to present, the only thing I want to be doing is traveling home to be with my family, the people that I love, who I feel I need more right now.
Tomorrow will mark the one year anniversary since my family and I suddenly lost a very special person. It sounds strange even to me, but I’m starting to have that gut wrenching feeling, as though I pressed a rewind button on the last year to the moment just before I heard those words.
A few weeks ago a guy named Martin came to school and his presentation had me in tears. He had grasped something I don’t think a lot of people have. When we say an advertisement is shit it’s usually due to us not being able to connect to it. However, what we don’t think about is how someone else might have. Advertising is subjective and just like art, life experiences shape how we think and look at things massively.
This talk came to the forefront of my mind more this week with the John Lewis advert. When I had finished watching #mozthemonster I was left feeling nothing, I was confused, and a bit disappointed but then other people had tears. And that’s when I remembered Martin’s talk about a Thompson advert he thought was shit until he had an experience that made him hear it differently. Things affect people differently because of their own experiences. Everyone is talking about the Debenhams advert and John Lewis one etc., but not one article have I read anything about the Tesco advert.
That advert hit me like a smack in the heart. There’s a woman with blonde hair checking the food in the oven that reminded me of her and instantly everything came flooding through memories of all the Christmases we’ve had together; Uncle Ste making jokes about the cooking “if it’s shit Jen made it, if it’s good I made it”. Auntie Jen’s (sometimes) watery veg, my dad’s annual experiments with the main meat dish, the dancing, the late night cousin sleepovers, opening presents, the laughs, magic FM music videos blaring out the classics, baileys, pulling crackers, the smell of their house, that special ‘Brussels, chestnut and bacon’ dish they always made me.
She was that woman, she was the cook, the one to bring our family together, the one who kept us going when bad things happened, when the family went through changes she was the person who made our Christmases look and sound like the ones on the Tesco advert. And after all that remembering, in a split second, a pang of stark realization that Christmas won’t be the same again hits. It makes me feel bittersweet, but I still love the ad because it is a depiction of what a true Christmas is like, family, food, love, and disasters.
It’s not a revolutionary advert by any means, don’t get me wrong. But after Martin’s talk instead of calling something shit, I think, what persona would the intended audience have? What have they been through, what do they value? We are aiming to become part of a business that needs to understand people, so maybe the next time you think an advert is shit, try and view it from the mindset of someone else.