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In HP's 'Togetherness' commercial, a family’s heated debate about global warming serves to illustrate how polarised American society has become – and how this is having a major impact on even our closest relationships. We explore the insights behind the ad, and how it aims to promote the deeper commonalities that let us overcome our differences.

In the three-minute spot from HP, a family gathering at Christmas progresses peacefully until the topic of global warming sparks a heated exchange between two sisters. In an effort to reconcile her feuding relatives, a younger member of the family excuses herself to print out photos of the pair over the years and arranges them in a heart shape for everyone to see. The final scene shows the possibility of people coexisting in spite of their political differences in the form of a slice of pie offered by one sister to the other, with a message that reads: “If we never reach out, we’ll never come together.” Discussing how polarised political views have altered people's view of technology, marketing chief Antonio Lucia explains that ‘Togetherness’ is a seeking to reconcile “one tribe looking forward and the other looking back.”

HP acknowledges political diversity in a polarised America HP acknowledges political diversity in a polarised America
HP (2018) ©

Advertisers may see themselves as experts in understanding human behavior, but many were left perplexed following Donald Trump’s election victory in 2016. This led HP to collaborate with advertising agency Y&R to find out the mood of non-coastal ‘Middle Americans’, who said voting for Trump was a reaction to a system they felt no longer attached to. The findings helped the brand reposition to account for people’s varied leanings, disposing of the implicit assumption that everyone shares the liberal values held in Democrat-leaning coastal cities.

In acknowledging political polarisation, HP – in a similar way to the FT’s campaign for balanced journalism – is appealing to a broad audience by simply showing how different ideas can coexist, catering to the 71% of Americans that believe political correctness is stifling needed societal debate. And while some, such as Jimmy Fallon, saw their reputation take a hit by refusing to pick a side with political issues, brands such as HP have found success in appealing to the diversity of opinion contained within their audience, and acknowledging their political beliefs without engaging in partisanship.

Safa Amirbayat is a junior behavioural analyst at Canvas8, which specialises in behavioural insights and consumer research. An economics graduate from University College London with a specialism in industrial organisation, banking and behavioural economics; he can be found boxing or reading a novel outside of work.


21 May 18
2 min read

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