Emotional Advertising for photographers

Some of my favourite advertisements leave me feeling very emotional. The buzzword is “sadvertisements”. I don’t like that term though because a lot of them can leave you feeling very happy too. No doubt though, the marketers that do this well are aiming to see some tears. You’ve probably fallen for one or two of them yourself. They’re ads that aren’t designed to make you want the product but they’re designed to remind you how have that product makes you feel. One that really gets me every time is “First Skate” from Canadian Tire. It’s an old one I can’t make it all the way through without feeling my eyes get a bit wet.  The premise of the commercial is that a boy is out skating on a frozen pond with his father for the first time.  Through the commercial you see the anticipation build as the father ties the boy’s laces and they hit the ice.  The twist is that the boy is actually very experienced and it’s indeed his father’s first skate.  The boy reaches for the father’s hand in a moment of ultimate Canadian cinematic genius.

During the Vancouver Olympics, Tim Horton’s put out another tear jerker.  The advertisement shows a father who is new to Canada picking up his family at the airport.  He lovingly greets his family at the arrivals area of the airport with coffee in hand and thick winter coats.  Tim Horton’s, winter coats, new Canadians.  It’s enough to tug at any Canuck’s heart strings.  When they leave the airport his family sees snow for the first time. It’s the quintessential Canadian moment with the quintessential Canadian coffee.  The point is that it connects you to the brand and the moment more than it does the product.


Another great example is Westjet’s “Christmas Miracle”.   In this video Westjet pulled off the ultimate emotional advertising stunt.  They involved their own customers.  Note what makes all of these ads so strong is that they tell such an incredibly human story.  Is that much different than what wedding and family photographers do on a daily basis.  These companies had to put an incredibly amount of thought into how they would hit an emotional note but photographers do this almost naturally.

But why is this important for photographers? How can we use the methods employed by large corporations for our small businesses?  Advertising for photographers is different than advertising for most other services.  Our final products can convey emotion easier and faster than most other businesses can.   

As photographers we’re in a unique position. Our greatest assets are our photos. Photos inherently tell stories and evoke emotions and once you make someone feel something, you’ll have their undivided attention. Keep this in mind the next time you meet with clients.  Places that you can consider putting in some emotional punch:

1.  Your brochure–this item is what welcomes your clients to your business.  It’s an ideal spot for you to use emotion.  Talk about the importance of capturing your client’s most important moments and show them how you’ve done it before.  Emotions are universal.  It doesn’t need to be there own wedding for a client to feel attachment to those moments.  i.e A father walking a bride down the aisle.  For your potential bride that hasn’t yet had that moment she’ll probably feel some anticipation for when she’ll be at her wedding with her own father.  Showing examples of how you capture these for your clients proves to your client that you’re observant, quick to react and intuitive.  All of those skills increase your value over other photographers.

2. Website copy–most of our websites are covered with imagery.  Are you trying to attract a client that appreciates candid emotional photos or one that’s strictly looking for posed portraits?  Your choice of words can make all the difference in the type of clients you attract.

3. Slideshows–There’s no better way to connect your potential new client with your brand than slideshows.  This is the ideal moment to utilize the methods used by big brands in sadvertising.  If you can make the client feel emotional when viewing your photos than you’ve left an impact on them.  Music is key here.  The right song choice can make all the difference.  Once you’ve created a few incredible slideshows, give them to your clients to share with their friends but also use them as tools to nurture future clients.

4. Reaction reels–Have you ever seen your clients reacting to seeing their images for the first time? It can be very emotional. Have you considered recording their reactions to use for an emotional advertisement of your own?  Checkout the example below from Calgary Wedding Photographers Abby + Dave.  How could anyone watch that and not feel emotional?  I call this the atom-bomb of marketing.  Not only can you feel their emotions and see their reactions, you’re getting a fool proof testimonial.  They don’t even need to tell you what they think of their photos.  Their faces do all the talking.

The video features another pair of Calgary wedding photographers, Andrew & Erin from Photographik.  Andrew & Erin filmed themselves with watching their slideshow for the first time and then simply embedded the slideshow into the video as a picture-in-picture.  The result is that you can actually see their reactions to each photo.   That’s exactly how you want your clients to feel when they see their photos.  IF you can make a potential clients feel that way before they’ve even booked you, you’ll strike gold.



To learn more about sadvertising at work checkout Fast Company’s article The Rise Of Sadvertising.

–Jasser Abu-Giemi, CPC Founder.


Comments + Share