Life is series of contrasting emotions and moments. Joy can be found in the radical fluctuations between great happiness and sadness; beauty and starkness. So why then is there such pressure to be beautiful and happy?

How would you know what happy is if you’ve never experienced sadness? If all you ever had was the ecstasy of success there would be no motivation to grow; to be human.

beautiful and happy
So for us, there is something particularly synthetic about ad campaigns that sell the idea of an extreme positive emotion. Two recent examples of exactly this point come from Dove and Coca Cola:

Pressure to be beautiful: Dove #choosebeautiful

Pressure to be happy: Coke #choosehappiness

Happiness / beauty by itself is wonderful, but is appreciated even more when sprinkled between challenges of growing, of living. That’s reality, that’s life!

Maybe we listened to too much Nirvana back in the 90’s, or we have a secret admiration of Morrissey (God forbid), but these recent campaigns make us feel ever more alienated from these brands.

Stylised shots of beautifully graded riot scenes from Coca Cola make the brand seem so out of touch from the graphic images coming out of Baltimore / Ferguson & Tel Aviv. Expressing rage in public falls into the realm of art and the agony of the human condition. It’s raw, dangerous and ugly. Recreating that emotion with rented smoke machines and on-demand craft services feels like a corporate cop out, and lacks the kind of vulnerability you would hope for with such an emotionally charged promise.

Reports surfacing that the ‘hidden camera’ story from Dove (that touched so many people as being real and spontaneous) was actually a staged production complete with scripts and professional actors, doesn’t help with the authenticity of this brand either.

What is being sold in both cases is an unrealistic vision of pressure to be perfect. Life when you are not feeling beautiful is wrong, a society that is not high on happy sucks. What ever happened to the real thing?

Disneyland just hijacked your reality.