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This blog post is going to read like the ramblings of an aging 45-year-old creative. Harking back to a time when policemen were taller, summers were longer, and a politician’s career wasn’t counted in hours and minutes. But there was a time when adverts used to make people laugh, or at very least smile. That is no longer the case.

Name the last time an ad made you laugh out loud?

Over the past ten years the amusement factor has dropped out of the creative discussion, replaced instead with a desire to make the consumer feel sad and weepy. What was once solely the preserve of John Lewis ads during the festive period, has now become part of our advertising diet of misery 365 days a year.

It seems that the need to make consumers happy is never more pressing than now. The 24-hour news cycle is genuinely depressing at the moment.

Inflation, fuel prices and the War in Ukraine have all book-ended two years of Covid and created a genuine feeling of gloom. But the need to make people smile isn’t just a cynical play from advertisers either.

It’s a natural move for society to ‘zig’ when another part of it has ‘zagged’ too far the other way.

In the Elizabethan period, it was fashionable to whiten the skin with lead, because everyone worked outdoors, and a tan was seen as a negative. Yet in the 1970s and early 1980s, when society had largely moved indoors for work, the suntan became more attractive as it showed wealth and access to more leisure time. The same is true of body shapes, in times of hardship fuller figures are desirable, and in times of plenty the rush to become a size zero begins. In short, we’re bloody miserable now, so make us laugh.

So, if you are one of those people out there, lucky enough to have a job that could potentially make people smile, let’s do it.

Let’s stop trying to make people cry and make them laugh. Put away those sad music tracks and create content that spreads a bit of joy. Tears of laughter is where it’s at.

Paul Williams has been with Golley Slater for over 15 years! . He’s worked on some fantastic campaigns for Mitsubishi Motors, The British Army and most recently, The Welsh Government. As one of our brilliant creatives, he’s great at coming up with unexpected ideas and solutions that have never been done before…

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