Knorr's emotional viral hits the sentimental sweet spot

Social video experts Unruly review the latest viral by Knorr.

Home may be where the heart is, but Knorr’s charming new spot looks to narrow that definition. A whole-hearted celebration of home-cooked meals and family connection, the ad posits more specifically that kitchen is where the heart is.

While interviews in documentary spots can often feel woefully staged, ‘Flavour of Home’ deftly avoids that problem. 9/10

The latest in a trend of major brands producing lo-fi documentary spots to massive sharing appeal, Knorr’s ‘Flavour of Home’, created by Lowe and Partners, is in very good company. Last December, UPS hit sharing gold with ‘Driver For A Day’, an almost unbearably cute short about a precocious young boy fulfilling his dream of delivering post to his neighbourhood (complete with mini-sized delivery truck).

Brand-appropriate flavour

More recently, Microsoft addressed the gender imbalance in science education and industry with ‘Girls Do Science’, a montage of interviews with young girls passionate about working in the field.

True to the genre, ‘Flavour of Home’ takes a sentimental story and overlays it with a sprinkle of brand-appropriate flavour. In this case, the spot follows Carmen, a British woman transplanted to the Arctic Circle through her work training sled-pulling huskies. Shot with captivating detail, we see the routine of Carmen’s life: the snow-swept terrain, the 16-hour days and her love for the animals she works with. It’s a subject worthy of director Nanette Burstein, an Oscar-nominated documentarian and the force behind the criminally-underseen American Teen.

Home sweet home

The ad begins with the question, ‘What is the greatest flavour on Earth?’ For Carmen, the answer lies thousands of miles away in Portsmouth, with her mother.

While interviews in documentary spots can often feel woefully staged, ‘Flavour of Home’ deftly avoids that problem. Instead, Carmen and her mother’s testimonies feel entirely natural, interrupted by nervous laughs and tender moments.

Carmen’s mother appreciates her daughter’s work but chokes up when she discusses the distance it puts between them. In case you haven’t guessed yet, you will want to call your mum after watching this.

Through the magic of transcontinental flight, Knorr sends Carmen’s mother to finally visit her daughter in Finland. Secreting herself away in the kitchen, she sets about cooking up Carmen’s favourite home-cooked meal and, at this point, the purpose of the title becomes clear. After all, what’s more evocative than your mum’s cooking?

The stakes are set as we watch to see if Carmen will recognise her mother’s culinary touch. Despite the possibility of sentimentality, ‘Flavour of Home’ always cuts itself off before becoming mawkish. As Carmen’s mother suggests self-deprecatingly, "It might be a bit embarrassing if she doesn’t [guess it’s me]".

We won’t spoil the ending but suffice to say that, like MetLife ‘My Dad’s Story’, Knorr serves up a treat. The YouTube comments alone attest to that fact. While the number of sentimental documentary spots being produced right now suggests we’re reaching saturation point, the real distinguishing factor here is quality.

While any brand can haphazardly throw over footage of people hugging, the popularity of this brand of video (on social media and websites like Upworthy) has produced a level of discernment when it comes to sharing content. Particularly content that comes with a ‘tissue at the ready’ advisory warning.

Research by Unruly and partner universities has demonstrated both that uplifting spots are more likely to be shared and that highly-emotional advertising tends to reduce price sensitivity in viewers.

There is clearly money to be made in riding the fine line between genuinely uplifting and saccharine sweet, and Knorr’s spot is a case study in that balance. Now, close this tab and go call your mum.


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