Thirty-five years ago Paddy Chayefsky and Sidney Lumet produced a masterpiece about media, madness and manipulation.
Here's the classic moment when Peter Finch's Howard Beale character finds his new voice:
Wow! That could have been a segment from last night's programming on CNN, MSNBC or FOX!
The scene's a perfect lead-in to the third in our series of posts about brands and emotions.
Not surprisingly, this one's on Anger.
That look of fury on Finch's face is one we humans have become very familiar with. In an instant we can both express our own Anger and perceive that of others around us. As with Fear and the other four primary emotions (i.e., Disgust, Sadness, Surprise & Joy), Anger is a deep element in our social toolbox.
Anger establishes boundaries and, perhaps most importantly, energizes us to action. Like Fear, Anger triggers our fight or flight mechanisms. That is, Anger energizes us to action.
And, brands want action.
Mostly, they want your flight from their competitors and fight for them.
Take, for instance, Jamie Oliver.
Oliver's trying to change the way America's children eat.
A great cause. I support him completely.
Get parents angry.
Did you feel it? Did you feel the anger against the evil school board trying to keep those children from eating healthy food?
You probably did. (I know I did!)
That's because every brand that uses Anger is likely telling us a very familiar story: Victim, Villain, Hero (VVH).
In VVH, the lines are clear and the emotions powerful.
Someone is being wronged (Victim) usually by someone who has ulterior motives (Villain).
A perfect formula for Anger. Innate. In fact, even other primates become angry when presented with injustice.
Enter someone to right the wrong by defeating the Villain and rescuing the Victim (Hero).
Anger is the engine of VVH and works like a charm. If you pay attention to ads you'll see in the next week, chances are you'll find 50 examples of VVH in action.
Some are more subtle than Oliver's (and, frankly, less worthy of the emotion they try to elicit—are you really that pissed off because you can't find the right size plastic container lid??) but the story arc will be the same.
And the product being sold will always be the Hero.
All of this happens because Anger ads work.
Whether the emotion is "positive" or not isn't really important. What is important is that brands know how to touch us emotionally and how to use those emotions to spur us into action.
Seen any good Anger ads recently? How about sharing them.