Think about the last time a song or a movie or the ending of a book moved you. It doesn’t happen all the time, but once in a while something holds your attention and lingers on in your thoughts. What creates such impact and staying power? Is it limited to art? Can marketing evoke the same effect?
No matter your spirituality or religious preference, it’s hard to deny that there exists some innate human connection or awareness of some ultimate Truth or Experience or Reality. It’s a resonance we feel when we reconnect with an old friend; it’s the anger and abhorrence that stirs within us when we witness injustice.
A brand can tap into these notions. And when it does, it isn’t selling a product – it’s engaging in mystic advertising, connecting itself to people on the basis of some underlying, universally-felt inkling. Dove’s recent campaign, “You’re More Beautiful Than You Think,” captures this brilliantly. The brand isn’t selling beauty products—not entirely; Dove is selling self-confidence and self-esteem. And the message is so genuine that people are rapidly connecting and responding to it—a Dove facial cream isn’t going to make you beautiful—you already are.
Budweiser’s Clydesdale ad is another example. It relies heavily on sentimentality, but the real question is why sentiment can be so effective when it’s done right. The answer is that it touches upon something we all feel and something we can all relate to in way that is subtle—not overly obvious and not overbearing.
Mystic advertising is branding sleight of hand—it blurs the line between ad and art. What’s actually being sold isn’t a physical product, but an idea, a notion, an awareness of some ultimate truth, universal reality or shared experience.