Stubble trouble: is EE’s spectacular new ad too scary?

EE’s new ad about their 5G connectivity showcases a remarkable technical achievement. No, we’re not talking about the remote controlled robot arm which shaves a man on top of Mount Snowdon. We’re talking about it being one of the very few ads to successfully use, and resolve, Fear as its emotion.

Of the seven main emotions we look at in TestYourAd Premium, Fear is one of the least used – it’s the preserve of stern PSAs, not consumer ads. But this is a seriously tense commercial – complete ominous music as the robot razor moves toward a very exposed neck. Fortunately the EE network does its job and the shave is (apparently) completed. And the Fear – represented by that yellow band above – dissipates.

That’s a big advance on most Fear-fuelled ads, which manage to make people nervous but not calm them down again. It’s a very unusual ad, and you can see the impact in that massive Spike score – this is definitely an ad which will be noticed in the short-term.

So congrats to EE making an unusual ad that does something very difficult, very well. But – like going up Yr Wyddfa for a shave – you have to ask if it’s worth doing at all. The reason ads don’t play with Fear much isn’t just that it’s tricky to use – it’s that Fear is a very hard emotion to turn into Happiness, and ultimately it’s positive emotion that drives branding.

The ad scores 2.7-Stars – which is above the category average for mobile networks.  Considering only 1 in 10 mobile network ads score 3 Star or above, this is a good performance  for such a different commercial.. And it’s clear why – there’s a lot of surprise and excitement around the ad, which is good, but a stronger peak of Happiness at the end could have seen this ad achieve a 3 Star plus score.   A bit more resolution might have helped – some more smiles and maybe a final phone chat with Bacon, maybe? – but there’s a broader issue too. Whatever UK consumers want to use their 5G networks for, a roboshave in the Welsh mountains is not high on most lists. There’s nothing wrong with spectacular stunts, but framing them in ways people can relate to could prove to be  more effective.

Is your ad scary good or is it scaring people away?

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